Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent 2020

Clearing the Way to the Deep Place within Ourselves

In our reading, John the Baptist encourages us to prepare – to find the place where we can meet with Jesus. To let the Lord lead us beyond our mind, our emotions, our imagination; to the still place deep within ourselves. The place, he says, where the axe is laid to the very root of our being; where something new can begin.

A Story of Finding the Comfort, but Missing the View

Søren Kierkegaard told a parable about a rich man riding in the comfort of his lit carriage. It was driven by a peasant who sat behind the horse in the darkness outside. Precisely because he sat near the artificial light inside, the rich man missed the panorama of stars outside; a view gloriously manifest to the peasant.

How does John Help us to Prepare?

Right at this very moment, the time, effort, trouble, and cost that many people are giving to prepare for Christmas is almost limitless! What could we do to really prepare for Jesus?

In Kierkegaard’s story, the man is soaking himself in luxury; an expensive carriage and the comforts of a plush interior, with the sophistication of an interior lamp. He looks out and misses the simplicity of the journey. His lamp blinds him to the wonder and joy of what is happening beyond the confines of his coach.

Some of John’s congregation were like the man – the knowledge of the Pharisees, the precision of the Scribes, the prestige of the Sadducees and the status of an ordained priesthood – it was these “blessings” which were preventing them finding the simplicity of the gospel message. Their sophisticated theology had blocked out the truth, just as the lit interior of the carriage had obscured the stars from the rich man.

As he preaches “Prepare the way of the Lord,” John encourages them simply to put their trust in the good news, to leave behind the path that seemed right, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

Is the church culture we have developed over many years giving us a certain comfort, and yet denying us the inspiration, joy, and exhilaration of the Kingdom of God? Has ease obscured the beautiful truth of the universe for us, and diverted us from coming to know the true power of Jesus?

Father, stir us to prepare for the coming of Your Son.

Open our eyes that we might see what we have never seen before.

Bring us to the place where we feel Your presence.

Help us to lay aside and leave behind the things which hinder us.

Set our feet on the way that leads to Jesus

Bring us back to the simplicity of the gospel message.