A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:4-6
Luke’s Gospel is actually recalling the words of the Prophet Isaiah. My personal rule is that any time the New Testament quotes the Old Testament we should probably pay attention because apparently it is something that bears repeating.
During Advent we are called to ‘Prepare the Way’. But what does that mean? This reading always leaves me with images of giant earth-movers, backhoes and dump trucks frantically lowering hillsides and filling in ditches and chasms. But is that what Isaiah had in mind? I don’t think so. I believe that Isaiah was speaking metaphorically. I suspect that some of us are the valleys that need to be filled and others of us are the mountains that need to be toppled. And often, I suppose, we’re a bit of both.
I know that my own arrogance, pride and boastfulness need to be ‘made low’. My heart and spirit could use some ‘filling up’ right now. And of course there is plenty that needs to be ‘straightened out’ and ‘made smooth’.
So this Advent season when I hear those ancient words of Isaiah I am reminded that God is not asking me to fix the world. He is not expecting me to make others walk the straight and narrow. He is speaking only to me about me. He is asking me to prepare myself to receive his Son. To let go of my pride and my sinfulness and to be more loving and giving. God is inviting me once again to be filled with his Spirit. And to prepare myself to revel in the birth of our Savior.