I can’t hear the Advent scriptures from Isaiah without also hearing Handel’s Messiah in my head. When I was in 9th and 10th grade, I sang in the adult choir at my Southern Baptist church. Both the pastor and the choir director had children in the high school age bracket, and the daughters wanted to sing. They also wanted to invite their friends from Suburban High School, where the choir director was also the choral teacher. We doubled the size of the choir, and we had a great experience singing from the classical church repertoire. Looking back now, I’m impressed that we were singing Handel and not Gaither.
Advent calls me back to those words:
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Musicians, I’m sure you hear it as I do.
This week in the lectionary, both Isaiah and John the Baptist call on us to make a straight path for God. A highway is a road set above the dangers and distractions of the immediate landscape, a smooth pathway, a direct route. I’ve been thinking about the sorts of roadblocks and barriers we encounter in this modern world. What keeps us from making a straight path for God? I don’t think this is limited to Christians; it’s a valuable question no matter what you believe or don’t believe. What prevents us from directing ourselves purposefully on the spiritual path?
As I left for work yesterday, I realized we had no Cascade, and I could not run the dishwasher. I meant to mention it to Pure Luck, who had more time to go to the store, but I forgot in my haste to get going. So I came home to a dishwasher still full of dirty things, and a sink piled high with the leftover pans and pots of Sunday night that I never washed when I wasn’t feeling well on Monday morning and never got back to after working until well after nine that night.
It’s a busy season.
It’s hard to work in the kitchen when you can’t find sink or counter space for food preparation.
It’s hard to do the inner work when there is neither space nor order. What does spiritual clutter look like?
Too busy to pray
Too anxious to sleep
Too tired to worship
Too angry to let go
Too disappointed to hope
Too lonely to connect
Too sure to be surprised
My beloved sister-in-law lives in a wee, small house. To fit a Christmas tree into the house, she needs to put furniture into storage.
We have to make room to let wonder into the house.
We have to make room to let Spirit into our lives.
The good news is a fresh start: the tidy desk, the vacuumed living room, the clean sink and the freshly-wiped counter. The good news is the mercy of God who gives us yet another chance.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
The Spirit of Mercy reaches out to comfort us. Will we have mercy on ourselves and say yes?