John’s usage of the metaphor of the Christian life as a race to be run calls us to stop bending God’s Word to promote our human adventures. The metaphor calls us to prepare the way of the Lord by making His paths straight (Mk 1:3). When we reject, bend or ignore the Bible as God’s Word, nothing will be revealed, except human imaginations and ideas. Marriage, nations, individuals created and blessed to be centres and climaxes of Gods creativity activity can become a wilderness and a wasteland when the words of God, The Creator is rejected or ignored. Christian faith hears and obeys God’s voice, pride and unbelief denies God’s voice. Just as Christian faith comes and grows by hearing, and hearing the Word of God, the faith also declines by not hearing and obeying the Word of God. Advent Gospel is about hearing, yielding and obeying God’s Word.
The Gospel reading from Mark for the second Sunday in Advent tells us that Geography is theology in disguise. The Gospel according to John begins before the beginning, before creation, before time and space. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke begins with nativity stories. Mark’s gospel begins, is birthed, in the wilderness. Geographically, the wilderness, a symbolic of the wasteland, is also a barren land. Jerry Harris aptly explained that, wilderness sets in spatial and missional tensions with the temple, thought to be the centre of God’s creative activity. While birth marks the beginning of a life, baptism marks the beginning of the Christian way of life.
In contrast to the present culture remaining comfortably at rest with the secular or less illusory ideas of God, the good news of Jesus begins in the wilderness calling repented voices to make His paths straight in our homes, churches, and nations. The wilderness is not hospitable to new borns and their mothers; it is a hostile and uninhabitable wasteland. To be banished into the wilderness, as was Cain, is to have one’s life put in danger. Life in the wilderness is literally an existence unbearable for humans. God is calling for more repented voices to cry, make His paths straight in the wilderness of England and Wales, our homes and churches. How can we prepare and make His paths straight? How can we make room for God in people’s lives, in the midst of the current chaos, especially decline in churches? How might we continuously point people to Jesus? While pride, prejudice, and sin shut out the truths of God, Advent Gospel offers repentance and renewing voices.
The story of the prodigal son provides us a good reflection on how to make a straight paths to God in the wilderness. Most of the time, our wilderness are self, sin, greed, and pride inflicted. Advent Gospel is a clear Gospel about our Heavenly Father Who always wants all His children to come close to Him, perfectly ONLY through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Against the provided clear path of covenants, ordinances, faith and discipline, the prodigal son allowed himself to be tricked and entangled himself with the things and love of the world. For the prodigal son, the simple path became hard. An unencumbered journey became encumbered for him. The prodigal son’s story resonates with our homes, churches, and nations today under encumbered path, theology, leadership, and journey. We are in need of straight path back to God.
Advent Gospel reminds us that, the road to Christmas begins with repentance. We begin with heartfelt contrition and that was what happened first to the prodigal son. How do we make a way in the wilderness? Are you consumed with crisis, or busyness like the prodigal son? How can we make a way in the wilderness of people’s lives, homes, churches and nations? To make straight paths to God is first personal before corporate. We need to repent, come to our senses and be humble and be ready for a renewing close relationship with the Father by developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. The prodigal son was very anxious to meet his father again. Advent Gospel invite us to learn from the prodigal son who first straightened his path, straightened his gaze and humbly took a straight path and step forward to his father.
Advent Gospel is about hearing and responding to the voice calling in the wilderness of our hearts, homes, churches and nations to embrace the ONLY change that matters to become ‘little Jesus’ shining in the darkness of the world.