And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways…- Luke 1:76
The above line is the first words of a solo that the leader sings when leading the Gospel Canticle in the Matins service in the LBW. Many congregations have never heard this worship setting because it is reserved for weekday mornings. When I was in Seminary, we would sing it almost weekly during our daily worship services. When it was my week to lead worship with a team of colleagues, I would often lead matins during our week.
For many years, Sarah and I had a running joke when we were struggling to parent one of our children and we would look at each other and say, when the child was safely out of ear shot, “You are NOT the prophet of the most high!” Scripture tells us that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit when these words flowed from his mouth. Did he know what this prophecy means? And, all we are told is, “The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.”
Each year, we hear John the Baptist warn all those who are listening that one greater than him is coming. This time of Advent is a time to prepare the way of the Lord. It seems this year, that people are longing for the joy and peace of Christmas because they have decorated and started listening to Christmas music earlier. When things feel out of our control, we often will turn to tradition to bring about the stability that we long for.
On Wednesday night, we will gather for worship at 7pm and we will sing Holden Evening Prayer. For many, this is part of their tradition. It is a time for quiet reflection and singing. For others, it is the lighting of the candle on the Advent wreath each week that marks this time. For others, they may have a wreath at home or maybe an advent calendar or any number of other ways to celebrate and prepare this time of year.
My prayer for all of you is that you can find a little peace; that you can reflect on Christ’s coming as a baby born in Bethlehem and; that you can ‘prepare the way’ for yourself and for your family to receive this one into your hearts and into your lives.
God’s Peace, Pastor Steve