Advent Day 21: Prepare the Way

"For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

Matthew 3:3

We prepare for Christmas. We shop, wrap presents, bake, clean, and cook. We decorate our trees, hang lights, and play carols to conjure up the Christmas spirit. Are we preparing our hearts?

"Prepare the Way of the Lord, John the Baptist shouted. "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." The son of Zechariah had a special purpose. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 to prepare the way for Jesus.

For years I read John the Baptist's words and bristled a little. It seemed so legalistic and works-based to me. Then I realized his message was not about salvation, but about preparing our hearts for salvation.

John the Baptist called people to clear their hearts of any obstruction that could keep them from recognizing and coming to Jesus. He wanted Israel to know their sin, confess it, and see their need for Jesus. This is why he harshly rebuked the religious leaders who already thought they were good enough to earn God's acceptance.

Many came and confessed. When Jesus came, their hearts were ready to embrace him. Sadly, some were not ready. Their hearts were so calloused by their own self-righteousness that they missed out on the Messiah for whom they waited.

Let us not miss Jesus this Christmas. As the day of celebrating his birth approaches, let us prepare the way for him by assessing the state of our hearts. Looking in the face of our ugly sin is painful, but without such a discipline, we forget we need a Savior. Let us not forget.

The shell is an ancient symbol of baptism in the Church. Tradition says that John the Baptist used shells to baptize people, but that has never been historically confirmed. Nevertheless, I wanted to keep tradition and use a shell for this ornament. I also added mini sandals because John the Baptist always makes me think of his declaration that he is not fit to even tie the sandals of Jesus.

Read Day 20: Breaking the Silence

Come back tomorrow for Day 22

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