Preparing the Way for God
I’m so glad I didn’t go shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I thank God that I was here instead. Did anyone here go shopping on Black Friday? I saw a video of people knocking other people down, scrambling on the floor, crawling over each other and screaming at each other, even taking items out of children’s hands; screaming ”It’s mine! It’s mine!” I don’t know what a six year old was doing there. He could have been trampled! It didn’t look like shopping to me; it looked like looting!” To think, stores opened on Thanksgiving Day and the same thing happened then!
Why is there so much greed and so little gratitude? Who here would rather be thankful than selfish? Why is there so much corruption and so little service? Who here would rather serve others than rip others off? Why is there so much violence and so little compassion and love? Who here would rather help others than help others?
Everyday there seems to be a story about people with power misusing their power; business leaders, politicians, police . . . people in every walk of life. Everyday there seems to be a story about someone getting hold of a weapon and killing somebody or hurting some body . . . War seems to be breaking out throughout the world either as conventional warfare or terrorism. We need something, don’t we? We need salvation! We need liberation! We need freedom!
John the Baptist tells us that salvation is coming . . . a Savior is coming! But there is something we have to do in anticipation of salvation. He says “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” In other words, “Get ready!” Why? Prepare the way of the Lord, make his ways straight, because something is going to happen. God is going to do something. What? “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
God is going to make God evident in our world. We have a part to play in that reality. God is to perform God’s work through us. We have to prepare ourselves, our lives and our world for God, God’s Kingdom and God’s reign. How do we do this? We start by living by God’s rules. It begins by how we think. If our attitudes stink our behaviors stink. It follows by how we speak and act. The words that come out of our mouths matter. The works that are performed by our hands are important, too. God has reminded us, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your actions are not my actions. “There’s a song that tells us “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” God has given us a Savior, meaning God has given us someone who shows us how to live in ways that are pleasing to God; a Savior who has opened the way of heaven to us and availed us to its grace so that it is possible for us to overcome our own tendencies toward evil and make our ways towards God. I love that little song, “We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome, someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday!”
Every one of us can be so much more than we are. Everyone here is good, but everyone of us can be better! The question is are we willing? When I look back at that Black Friday video and upon all the evil, greed, corruption, violence and injustice in the world, I wonder where the will to change is. Why are we so caught up in ways that lead to unhappiness? And so my question of you is are you willing? Are you willing to be more self-aware, even a little . . . Begin right now! Are you willing to change, even a little . . . Begin right now! Are you willing to struggle a little what is right and just? Begin right now! You may have to give up something for this to happen . . . your status quo . . . your negativity . . . your anger . . . your hatred . . . your greed or selfishness . . . your desire to have your own way at all costs . . . your control over others . . . your violence . . . (violence begins with what you think and leads to what you do) . . . your condemnation of others . . . Are you willing to invest in a positive future for yourself and the world? That is what preparing the way for God is about. Are you willing to begin right now in some little way . . . to prepare yourself to change for the better!