The Second Sunday of Advent – Matthew Webb
Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord” is a text that I knew from the Scriptures as a child growing up in the Baptist tradition. My dad always told this joke: “Did you know that Jesus was a Baptist?” Inevitably, someone would ask, “How do you know that?” My dad would quickly reply with the most straightforward of logical arguments: “Well, John the Baptist was a Baptist, clearly, and John baptized Jesus, so obviously Jesus was a Baptist!” As an adult I hear “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” and instantly think of the opening of Stephen Schwartz’s musical Godspell with the awkward trumpet fanfare that is supposed to sound like a shofar.
The opening passage of Matthew 3 describes what many refer to as the official start of Jesus’ earthly ministry. John the Baptist’s zeal for Jesus and the justice that he would bring is in juxtaposition with the first adult appearance of Jesus in the account of his baptism. John called the religious leaders who sought to be baptized a “brood of vipers,” whereas Jesus came onto the scene, a seeming nobody to the religious leaders, humbly asking for baptism from John. At this time, the voice of the Spirit of God, as in the likeness of a dove said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Sometimes when we are passionate about things, like John was, we tend to think that we are so right that we need to call out everyone who doesn’t understand and appreciate our zeal. Jesus showed us, however, the way of humility and peace – knowing that he in fact was God, but seeking to lead by example, asking to be baptized by John, his wild and wooly, outspoken cousin. As we celebrate the second Sunday of Advent and expectantly wait for the coming Christ child, let us remember to prepare the way, not with trumpets and shouting and judgment, but in the still, small places of our hearts, living lives that reflect the justice, truth, and peace that came from the example of our incarnate Christ.
Choose your favorite Christmas movie and ask a friend or family member to choose their favorite. Make some time to get together to watch them both, enjoy each other’s company, and maybe find a new favorite movie!
Midweek Reading and Prayer
Lord Jesus, who came to model for us a better, more just, more perfect way of living, show us how we can be your hands and feet to those in our congregation and in our community. Let us walk the way of peace, always seeking to create systems of equity and acceptance. May our church be a place where all people can find welcome and belonging. In the name of our Creator, our Savior, and the Spirit who offers us her guidance daily, Amen.