Summary: Before we can go out into the world to share the good news of Christ, we must first prepare our own hearts. An Advent sermon for Holy Communion Sunday.
Preparing the Way for Christmas
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’”
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
The message today is, “Jesus is coming and we are to prepare the way!” John the Baptist went out and prepared the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. John is telling us how we must prepare our hearts to clear the way for Christ in our lives. (Verses 1-3) The scripture tells the fulfillment of prophesy; the coming of Jesus, the Messiah who would save the world.
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
In 1775, frontiersman, Daniel Boone blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap–a notch in the Appalachian Mountains, at the intersection of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Today it's known as the Wilderness Road which served as the pathway to the western United States for over 300,000 settlers for 35 years. This road blazed by Daniel Boone made it possible for the establishment of the first settlements in Kentucky which later led to it becoming the 15th U.S. state in 1792.
In today's scripture, John the Baptist is speaking of another type of road...not one of clearing a path over mountains and rivers, but clearing a path through sin and evil. John is talking about a road to the human heart. How did John make the paths straight for the coming of the Messiah? (Verse 4) John’s primary task of preparing the way for the coming Messiah was preaching repentance of our sins.
This is the first step we must take before we can go out into the world each day to share the gospel. In order to prepare our hearts for Christmas, we must open our hearts to God and repent from our sin.
Psalm 51:17 - The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
When was the last time that you got on your knees and confessed your sins before God...All your sins? Sins of commission (doing something wrong) as well as Sins of omission (failing to act with justice & mercy) By confessing our sins, we empty out our hearts and prepare for the cleansing of forgiveness Jesus Christ offers. We are called to continue the work of John the Baptist...to go out and proclaim the good news of salvation. We are commissioned by Jesus Christ to go out into the world and prepare the way for Christmas.
Christmas is a special time: a time when hearts are being opened for the reception of Christ. Old grudges are set aside – Hardened hearts are softened – Old wounds are healed – Joy replaces bitterness. People begin to think of others rather than only themselves...In this they are finding the true joy of Christmas. We have a responsibility in preparing the way. We are to be the ones crying out in the wilderness. It’s our job to proclaim Jesus Christ...To be the ones to go out prepare the way by sharing the good news.
Simple message: Prepare your hearts and receive cleansing in order to go out and prepare the way for others to receive.
Today in celebrating Holy Communion, we are given the perfect opportunity to take the first step.