Second Advent Sunday

Preparation and Peace

Bible Portion: Isaiah 40:3-5: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”

Focus:  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain (v.4).

Reflect: Wilderness walking is not for the faint of heart! Refugees from war-torn Somalia began to pour across the national border into Kenya in the early 1990s. Many of them walked for miles. Some were sick or wounded; many lost loved ones along the way. A desert refugee camp in Dabaab grew very large. It now ranks with the world’s largest refugee camps. Fleeing war, people seek peace in that desert place.

Footwear for refugees is often sandals made from old car tires. Hunger and disease afflict many. Women and children are vulnerable to attack from fellow travellers and armed desert bandits. Mountains? There are none. But any raised ground and every barely shadowed valley becomes tiresome for starving, vulnerable people escaping war. They have scant energy to find the peace they seek.

Refugees lack strength for any walk that leads to rugged places. Their inner journey is often bleaker. Many, today, tread the broken path of wounded hearts and inner despair to seek some peace of mind.

Yet, God promises to lighten our way. He sends us hope, real hope in Jesus. In an age of electric lights, we are apt to take the power of light for granted. To grasp its real value, imagine a power outage on the darkest night of the year. Worse, imagine discovering you have only dead batteries in your flashlight and no candles in the house. Light’s absence demonstrates its value—and its safety. Ask any child—and many adults—if they are scared of the dark. The answer will be swift and sure.  

Isaiah calls us to prepare the way of the Lord in the dark deserts of our hearts. God promises to repair the ruined road we plod, making rough places smooth. Christ’s light and love work in our hearts assuring us that we never walk alone, unguarded. The Lord is with you, illuminating your way. He never leaves.

The Light of Christ shows up in our darkest moments. He shines meaning and purpose into the ways he leads us in. He brings us into his peace. In Advent, we prepare to receive Jesus, our peace in troubled times. We prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace. O Come, O come Emanuel—God with Us!

Consider: How might you prepare your heart today to receive the Peace of Christ? How can you bring that peace to a family member, friend, or neighbour for whom peace remains an absent promise?  

Pray: Father, in this Advent season, I lift my voice in praise. With the Angels of old, assist me to declare, “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.” Holy Spirit, prepare my heart this day to receive afresh the Peace of Christ. I yield my life to your purpose for me to declare your glory. Enable me to pass your peace to those I meet today. whom you place in my life.

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