December 23, 2012 Fourth Sunday of Advent
At this point we’ve all probably been to a concert, or a play, or a movie, so we’re all familiar with that feeling of anticipation we feel at that moment when the lights go down, the symphony has stopped tuning, or the warm up music in the area has turned off, but the performance hasn’t started yet.
That is what the fourth Sunday of Advent is. All the preparations have been made, all the players have been put into their places, but the drama has not yet started. But it’s about to.
John has been born. John has been named. He will grow up to play a specific role at a specific time, but that is in the future. It hasn’t happened yet.
When I was eight, or so, my father directed Godspell in the high school where he taught. (He taught at a high school in Napa CA that really is called Vintage High School, even now, and their colors really are burgundy and gold). I remember seeing the young man who played John, who seemed so old to me, even though he was all of seventeen, standing in a spotlight in the dark theatre, near the back doors, and doing a vocal approximation of a shofar. The he begins to sing:
Pre-hee-pare Ye the Way of the Lord, Pre-hee-pare Ye the Way of the Lord.
The fourth Sunday of Advent is just before that starts.
The curtain goes up on Christmas. And the play that teaches the world about the love of God starts then. The play that tells the world that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
Because we didn’t understand. We needed to have the Word embodied for us. Wee needed to have a human being tell us, and not just tell, but show us the love of God, and show us that someone of flesh and blood could pull it off. Emmanuel, God on Earth, yes, but also a human being who could stay connected to God. And whether we feel we can pull that off too, or not, we know now that it is our job to try. That is who Jesus is for us. And that play begins at Christmas.
May you believe what you hear in the play. May you understand that WE are to prepare the way of the Lord as well, even though the actual play happened two thousand years ago, our play is about how Jesus Christ can be born in us, and carried into the world through us.
We are now the seventeen year old boy singing in the theatre. It doesn't matter whether we can carry a tune (well, it does a little, you don’t want to say just anything, present the gospel in a way that damages the message so it’s worth thinking about) but it doesn't change the fact that this is our call. We are the feet, the hands, the mind, the eyes and the heart of God. This is our call.
Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.