Once again our liturgical year has come full circle as we enter another Advent. It almost seems unreal that it was a year ago that we were preparing for the coming of the New Born King with our readings, studies and songs. Yet here we are, ready to embark once again on a journey to the manger. The prophet Isaiah has some very profound words to describe what we should be doing during Advent.
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I have often pondered this passage in the context of Advent. I have advocated for us to use this time of watching and waiting as a time of making straight and plain. This year as I read this passage, I have been struck by the very first four words, “A voice cries out.” This voice that cries out and calls for preparation is a prophetic voice. Prophets don’t cry out to call attention to themselves, but instead to call attention to something or someone else. Yet in doing so, they also put a spotlight on themselves. Often the prophets find themselves in a position of great loss. Biblical prophets and modern prophets suffer persecution, jailing and even find themselves in the role of martyr.
What is our role in the Christian life as a prophet? How do we embody the life of a prophet in our daily interactions? What risk do we place ourselves in? Most often we deny our prophetic role and shy away from the danger of calling attention to Christ.
As we begin this Advent, I want to challenge everyone to consider how they might cry out! In what context might we be the voice of a prophet that draws attention to the God we know in Christ. As I have pointed out many times in the past, Christmas is a great opportunity to do this work. Our congregation is full of opportunities to be prophetic and invitational. Our upcoming study is a great example of a place where you can invite someone to join you on the journey with you. The annual Christmas Cantata is another example of a wonderful time to provide a prophetic invitation to friends and neighbors as well. The joy of the music and the importance of the Christmas story come together in such a way that can be extremely profound and transformative.
Of course just like prophets of old, there are some risks involved. Not everyone will respond positively to your invitation. Perhaps you will have that awkward moment when the person says no to you. Yet, this risk is part of our calling to be Christ’s disciples, and far too often we assume the rejection rather than hoping for acceptance.
If we are followers of Christ, we have been transformed. That transformation came because we once were those in the wilderness and we heard a voice crying out. Perhaps that voice was in the form of a parent, grandparent, friend or neighbor. Regardless, each of us was invited into our dynamic relationship with Christ by someone who was willing to share who Christ is. The seasons of Advent and Christmas are wonderful opportunities to cry out into the wilderness of peoples lives and invite them to experience Christ. The Christ who transforms us from wilderness dwellers into those who have peace and love through him.
Into who’s life might you cry out?