2nd Sunday Advent – That Terribly Inconvenient Season of Road Construction…
There are two seasons in the midwest – winter and road construction. Road construction, like the one pictured above (near my new office), is horribly inconvenient… until it’s over, then it’s smooth sailing, as it were. And this pretty much what Sunday’s gospel addresses at several levels…
Luke 3:5f “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Isaiah spoke to Jewish exiles in Babylon who had been there approximately seventy years. In the wake of the destruction of the Temple and the City, he called out, “Comfort, give comfort to my people…” ‘God will make the way easy for you. Return to your God! All is well! All has been forgiven!” Hence the image of road construction…
Isaiah spoke to people who had been betrayed, had lost everything. It wasn’t supposed to go that way! Can we ever trust God again? In this way the prophet provoked an internal dialogue with God. “Really?” And this inner dialogue with God opens that place that really needs road construction. What obstacles do we put up when called to return to God?
But, wait, there’s more!
At another level, the level of language, Luke uses terms that tell us that the obstacles to returning to God involve idolatry. Yes, mountains, hills, and valleys were places where the people made offerings to Baal, to Molech – sacred prostitution, even child sacrifice! These places will be “humiliated, made to bow low” so that the exiles could return.
And the path they would walk was the path of purification from the very idolatry God rejected.
And THIS, I believe, is what Advent is about – being addressed in our wilderness, our desolate places and being called from exile to walk the path of purification from our idols (whatever we believe will ‘save’ us) to return.
Advent, then, is NOT about regaining trust. It’s about hearing the call where we live. And, like road construction season, it’s damn inconvenient.