“Prepare the way of the Lord.” Matthew 3:3
Dear Redeemer Family:
Company’s coming! It’s time to get ready! In times so long ago we can only imagine, those keeping watch over a town or village would be the first to spot movement along the road. The good news of the company’s safe arrival would be shouted from the heights to those standing guard, or simply waiting, down below. The great bar pinning shut the castle or city gate would be shoved aside, the heavy door pulled open. At night, servants with blazing torches or lamps of oil would go running out to meet the approaching party and light the way. Exhilaration and joy would surround the travelers as they were ushered inside. The hosts would feel delightfully torn between pressing the visitors for all the latest news and leaving them alone for a while to refresh themselves and rest. Soon there would be time for feasting and mutually satisfying conversation.
Company’s coming! But now in these last days, even as gated communities are beginning to reappear, retinues with oil lamps are not. And so, as our own guests are en route, we watch the weather channel, tune in to traffic reports, call the airline to monitor a given flight’s progress. We mail and email maps or information about ground connections; perhaps we ourselves drive to the terminal and idle in a passenger loading zone, or more likely, the cellphone lot until we’ve just about memorized the messages repeated on the boards. Once our guests and their luggage have safely arrived, we feel delightfully torn between wanting to exchange all the latest news and allowing them to recover from jet lag.
Company’s coming! Not some stranger or supervisor we have to impress, but friends or family whose love for us reaches across time and distance and makes us eager to get ready. Once our company gets here, we won’t have to go out of our way to dazzle them with constant entertainment. Just being with them will be enough. Good shared memories will surface and surround us. A walk, or cup of coffee, or even a simple task undertaken together will become the substance of future memories. Because of the love and friendship that have drawn and kept us together, we trust that the visit will turn out to be one of the highlights of our year, and of theirs.
Company’s coming! Our Church year begins with this sense of joyful anticipation, of looking forward to welcoming one who loves us: Christ, the guest, who is already on the way.
Company’s coming! It’s time to get ready. We prepare as we’re able so that the visit can proceed. Once our guest has arrived, we want the focus to be not upon all that we have done to prepare, but upon the visit itself. During Advent we make ready at home. We make ready in church as well. Liturgical paraments and vestments in shades of blue mirror the deepening night. Candles flicker against the growing darkness. Away from the malls and traffic jams the liturgy helps us to create space where we can prepare ourselves and keep watch for Christ, the guest. It is love, the guest, who is already on the way; whose power is stirred up for our sake. Christ is journeying toward us. Let us prepare the way. Let us be prepared to welcome Him!