In this week’s Gospel (Mark 1:1-8), a passage from Isaiah is referenced, a passage that foretells of a messenger who will come in the wilderness, urging people to “Make ready the way for God’s coming; clear God a straight path.” This work of making ready the way for God’s coming and clearing God a straight path into our world and our lives is the work of the Advent season. We are called to remove that which stands between us and God as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
What is standing in between you and God this Advent season? For me, this year, the answer is food. Actually, the answer probably has been food for many years, if I am being truthful with myself (another important part of the Advent journey). By food, I do not mean the baking of cookies, stringing of popcorn and cranberries, or sharing in the preparation of a Christmas meal to be enjoyed with my family. What I mean is that when times are tough, and even when times are good, I seem to trust food more than God.
For instance, last week, when I was struggling to make an important decision, I did not think to pray about it or even to seek counsel and spiritual support from friends and family. Rather, I inhaled a bag of peanut butter M & Ms. Of course I had a momentary sugar high, but when I came down from that I was no further along in dealing with my dilemma. The week before that, when I got some really good news, I celebrated with a trip to Dairy Queen. Again, when the sugar rush ended, I found that I did not feel as if I had truly given thanks for what had transpired. The examples could be strung back over the years, so numerous that they all blend together into a montage of good tasting food that could not do the jobs I wanted it to do—apologize to a family member, release my anger, offer thanks to a trusted friend.
So my Advent journey this year is about food, or rather, about displacing food from its position between God and me. If I find myself disappointed by a friend, I am going to wail to God about it and leave the Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer. If I have the blessing of experiencing many lovely days, I will sing my joy to God instead of spending my money at McDonalds. Easier said than done, for sure, as old habits die hard. But Advent is about the journey; it is better to endeavor than not to try at all. This will be my way of clearing a straighter path for God, of putting my trust in the One who made all things.
What do you need to do this Advent season to make straight God’s path? What can you do to ask for support for this work, from God and from the important people in your life?Photo courtesy of Carol Browne via Creative Commons License