“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (Luke 3:1-6)
The second week of Advent is usually when verses about John the Baptist appear. John the Baptist is our reminder that Advent is a season of preparing – preparing ourselves and our household. To get ready for a change and a fulfillment of those things that are expected.
Last year the lectionary cycle used the actual verses from Isaiah; this year we hear them in the gospel of Luke. But they are no less imperative. The changes they call for are tremendous; what happened needs to change radically. The lows and the highs are to be made even and the crooked to be straight; the rough is to be smooth, and we will see the salvation of God made manifest. And Jesus, in his ministry, did call for radical change – gentleness rather than severity. This contrasts to yesterday’s verses where the messenger was to be a refiner and purifier. As I said, that was John, the John we have here. But as I also indicated, it could have been Jesus also. It depends so much, I think, if we are coming from a place of being prepared and ready, or a place of not knowing and being forewarned.
May you, beloved reader, this Advent season be ready for what is to come in the days and weeks that follow. Selah!