James, in his letter to the 12 tribes, caught in the dispersion, invited them to be patient; patient as the farmer who waits for the precious crop to come from the earth. Strengthen your hearts, he advises, for the coming of the Lord. That patience is advised for us in our preparation for the birth we anticipate. We know the day is near when we will celebrate the birth of Jesus; but there is still much in our lives we must make ready, with thought, preparation and prayer.
Matthew tells of the discourse between John, the Baptist, and Jesus. John is in prison and wants to know for certain that Jesus is the messiah, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” he asks.
Jesus answers, Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”
After, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. He invites them to think of what they went out to see in that wilderness, “Someone dressed in soft robes?” he asks. “Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.” He says. Did you go to see a prophet? And, he answers his own question’ “Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Jesus ministry, prepared for by John, began without him.
What was to be offered by Jesus was predicted in the poetry of the prophet Isaiah some 700 years, or more before his birth. What we hope for in every generation is described. What we search for is pictured.
It is the scene of another wilderness, not the one of John the Baptist, but the one of the promise of God: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.”
“They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God... A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools shall go astray. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return.”
The Christ child’s birth will be celebrated. The prediction of Isaiah will be fulfilled; and you are invited to walk the way of the Lord. AMEN
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.