President Daniel Arap Moi pointed his presidential stick as he walked into the school cafeteria at our newborn daughter and said, “She too will go to this school!” We were part of the crowd lining the walkway and I was holding our new baby. Through the years my other children have asked if any prophecies were spoken over them about their future. Our daughter did graduate from that school in Kenya!
The gospel of Mark, the second gospel, opens with an equally startling prophecy.
Mark 1:1-3, “ As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
Mark has skipped the birth story of Bethlehem and gone straight to the meaning of Christ’s birth. But he starts with this prophecy that predicts a forerunner to come before Jesus, John the Baptist, the fascinating evangelist holding camp meetings out in the country side. “Prepare” is the word that jumps out to me this morning. John will “prepare” the way for Jesus, and calls us to “prepare” the way for the Lord. Prophecy calls us to “prepare” because something big is coming.
About mid November, radio stations start playing Christmas songs and Black Friday ads fill the internet. Sale offers fill our emails. We start preparing gifts, decorating houses, writing letters and setting our hearts and minds on what is about to happen. We understand preparing.
The historical fact of Jesus coming (advent) was predicted in his genealogy as we heard yesterday from Matthew. A clue to the impact of his coming was predicted by the prophets and found in Scripture. In Advent we practice waiting and preparing for the coming of Christ. We remember both the birth of Christ and the prophesied return of Christ.
This Isaiah prophecy gives me hope in the midst of our struggles today because even though I do not know when Christ will return, God sends “messengers” to help us prepare. The coming may be like “a thief in the night” but we need not be unprepared. We have scripture that talks about “signs” encouraging us to hold on for wrong will be righted. We have nature that is going into winter, only to bring forth flowers in spring. We have testimonies of friends whose lives have been impacted by the reality of faith. We have “messengers” that give us hope. We may be in a “wilderness” right now but Scripture, nature and community call out to us to prepare for better days ahead- hope.
Perhaps Isaiah is not your “go-to” place to find hope for the future. Maybe you find hope in other passages like Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd, that says we are not alone when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps you find hope in the stories of a returning Christ who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead. Scripture helped Mark understand “who he was and what God expected of him.” Ponder today what Scriptures help point you forward and give you hope when you are feeling like you are in the wilderness. Allow those verses to rise in your memory and orient you as we head into this season of flurry and scurry. There are messengers helping us prepare our way in this wilderness but perhaps we need to take time to listen and hear the hope in their presence. We are not alone. God’s Spirit is here speaking. Listen! Blessings.