Reading: Matthew 3: 1-4
John the Baptist went out and began preaching in the desert. He did not set up shop in the temple, but out in the wilderness along the Jordan River. In spite of his location, John drew droves of people with his message, “repent, the kingdom of heaven is near”. They came to hear John’s message, to repent of their sins, and to be baptized in the water. People were drawn to the message of hope and new life. They were eager for this, even willing to change. John proclaimed, “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”. John told people they had a role to play. To receive this kingdom gift, one’s heart must be prepared and ready – we must walk a straight path.
In three weeks many will come seeking. Many will come to worship services all around the world, seeking to be touched by this same kingdom gift, seeking the hope and new life offered by the babe in the manger. They come because they sense that the kingdom of God draws especially near in this night. Just as in John’s day, people are still drawn to the powerful love of God, still drawn to the possibilities of hope and new life. This is the gift offered by the baby on Christmas Eve.
Are we ourselves prepared to receive the Christ child? Are we ourselves ready to help others come into God’s presence on this night of celebrating the birth? Advent, just like Lent, is a time of preparation. It is a time when we too must live by John’s words: “repent, the kingdom of God is near”. It is a time when we too must choose to walk a straight path so that we are ready to welcome the Lord Jesus into our own hearts again. May we hear the voice calling and may we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child and all who come seeking His gifts of hope and new life.