PREPARE THE WAY
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
Here is a wonderful promise to all of us who find ourselves in valleys, or facing mountains, or on a walk which has us facing twists and turns which are too much for us, or, in the words of the prophet, for those of us for whom the way is just… rough.
Notice what Luke says in our reading:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar
He places his message very firmly in history:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, not the 14th or 16th… no, the 15th year. God’s message is always very time specific. When God has a message for us, isn't it nice to know that is for now.
So, this Advent, in the 4th year of the reign of Jacob Zuma, in the 18th year of the reign of the ANC and in the 51st year of our republic, God has a message for us.
Timing is very important to God, ‘to everything there is a time and a season’ and God's timing is always perfect.
Maybe that’s all you need to hear this morning: “God’s timing is always right, always perfect (and is seldom the same as our timing)”
In Advent, we remember that Jesus will come again… ....but when?
Why didn’t He return in AD 100, or 1153, or 2011?… I don’t know… I’m kind of glad He didn’t, because it’s good to be here, now.
Why did God wait until the time of Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor of Syria for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem?
Why wasn’t Adam and Eve’s first child Jesus the Messiah, why did the world have to 1000’s of years before the sin of the world was dealt with by Jesus in 33AD.
That one we can answer to some extent. We know that the way had to be prepared for the Messiah and that way needed Enoch, .......Noah, .......Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,..................... it needed Egypt and Moses,....................... the prophets,........................ John the Baptist.
Maybe we need to hear today that while God’s timing is seldom our timing, God’s timing is always right, is always perfect.
Luke goes on…
.......when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene......
God’s message is always place specific; Judea, Galilee, Iturea, Traconitis, Abilene – they are all geographic places.
So, in the 4th year of Jacob Zuma’s reign, when Nomvula Mokonyane is premier of Gauteng, Sekgobelo Magashule is premier of Free State, Zweli Mkhize is premier of KZN and Helen Zille is premier of Western Cape…
God has a message for us at this time and in this place.
Luke goes on…
.........during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,...........
During the priesthood of Stack, Van Wyk and Poole (and soon… Killian)................ can you see how specific the message of God can be?
Luke goes on…
.........the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness............
The word of God came to (say your name) son/daughter of (say their names) in Alberton, perhaps in the wilderness in which you find yourself in Alberton…
Or............. the word of God came to Alberton Methodist Church in its wilderness during the priest hood of Poole, Van Wyk and Killian… or............ the word of God came to our nation in its wilderness during the reign of Jacob Zuma.
Whoever we hear the word of God coming to today, know this, God’s word is for you and for me, in this place and at this time.
And what is that word?....back to Luke:
Prepare the way for the Lord
We saw earlier that Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah etc, etc, prepared the way for the Lord, right up to John the Baptist, until God’s perfect timing for the Messiah to come. And then Jesus came, and was that the end?
No, ................as we saw last week, that was the beginning of the end, we are now living in the end times, awaiting the Second coming, awaiting the End.
And so, after the death, resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, Peter and Paul and the disciples continued to…
Prepare the way for the LORD (as must you and I) ......
and so did Augustine… Luther… Calvin and Wesley… they continued to: Prepare the way for the LORD (and you and I must too).............
And so did Baker… Robinson… Rogers… Stack… they and the people with them at their time and their place, Prepared the way for the LORD (and you and I must too)
What is the word of God for you, for me, for AMC, for Gauteng, for SA, for the world, this second Sunday in Advent… Prepare the way for the LORD.
That work which was begun by Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, continued by Abraham, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Wesley, Rogers, Stack… that work we must continue.
Now, what exactly it means to Prepare the way for the LORD– I think will be different for each one of us.
God’s specific focus for you at this moment in time might be:
Your personal spiritual development
Your family life
God might be saying Prepare the way for the LORD right now in your office, school, community
As we’ve made plans here at AMC for 2013, we have a number of our ‘usuals’ to keep our help our people Prepare the way for the LORD – Disciple, Marriage Course, Griefshare, Divorce Care, Kairos…
For those of us who might feel stalled in our spiritual walk we are running Richard Foster's Renovare course for deeper spiritual growth in the New year.
For our searching and our unchurched surrounding community we are running the Alpha Course, an outstanding evangelism outreach tool.
God is calling us to continue building on the work of those who've gone before us.......He's asking us to continue to
Prepare the way for the LORD .
Let us pray.