Preparing THE WAY For Christmas
One of my favorite movies as a kid was Aladdin. Maybe you watched it before? If not spoiler alert, a poor boy named Aladdin finds a genie who will grant him three wishes and one of them he chooses is to be made into a prince, which leads to one of my favorite scenes where he is paraded into city and there is quite the crew that leads the way and announces his coming. In the Old Testament when the Israelites were promised a Messiah King to come to save them, I think they hoped and expected there to be a big announcement and entrance like in Aladdin and that their king would be a warrior who would make their people power yet again but instead they got the humble servant, messiah King Jesus…not who they wanted but who we all need.
In the Gospel of Mark we don’t find anything about the actual first Christmas but it does begin with some of the buildup and preparations God was making for it to happen. Mark 1:1-3, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” This is a combination of prophecies from two prophets of the Old Testament Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1) that foretold the coming of John The Baptist, cousin of Jesus, and miracle child from God himself, you can read the amazing story in Luke 1:5-23.
What is amazing about who God is and how He has constantly pursued us is that He used the prophets to prepare the way for THE WAY. In fact did you know that Jesus fulfilled about 300 prophecies from the Old Testament? In John 14:6 , Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” During this season of Advent we can celebrate that we have a God who has faithfully been preparing the way for Jesus who isn’t a way but THE WAY.
I once heard a wise leader named Rev. Ann Smith say, “I have learned to live with expectancy instead of expectations.” I think there is some beautiful truth to that for us. Many of us have expectations of how life will go, how God will/should move, but when we have expectancy that God will move rather than that God will do exactly what I want, how I want, and when I want, then we will set up a God in our image, rather than the true God. And the true God is always better than the false ones we make up and follow.
So may we live with expectancy, with hope, and with faith. And as we seek to be faithful, don’t forget that God is with you and He loves you. That’s the real reason we celebrate advent/Christmas is that God came to be with us, it’s why Jesus was to be called Immanuel which means God With US. He is with you and loves you. Now go be with people and love them so they will know HIM.