“Make straight the way of the Lord!
“Prepare a highway for our God!”
That’s the theme of today’s sermon from St. John the Baptist;
a sermon he preaches to sinners camped out in the desert.
Today, they’d be out there in tents, RV’s, lawn chairs and Yeti coolers.
But this isn’t a state campground.
It’s a wilderness, a place nobody visits on vacation.
In fact, these people aren’t anything like modern-day campers.
They’re more like survivalists. Radicals.
People who don’t like the way things are.
People who don’t like the way things are going.
And their preacher is no less radical than them!
Can you see him? John the Baptist?
Standing barefoot on a sharp rock.
Matted hair. Camel skin on his back.
Insect legs from lunch stuck in his beard.
“He’s coming!” he yells
“Prepare the way of the Lord!”
John the Baptist was a complicated man.
The times in which his lived were turbulent
and he preached a radical message,
a message that landed him in prison and, eventually, cost him his life.
How might you and I relate to his message?
Well, let’s start with The Highway of our God.
How do you picture that road?
Is it level and smooth?
Straight as Interstate 40 slicing across
the plains of the Texas Panhandle?
Maybe, you imagine a red dirt path
snaking through desert mountains
and jagged bluffs along the southwest border?
Or, maybe you visualize a quiet street
taking you home after a long day at work.
Most of us are not inclined
to think much about roads or highways.
Our minds tend to focus on destinations,
not the roads that take us there.
Yet, roads deserve more attention that they usually get.
Do you ever listen to traffic reports on the radio?
Sometimes the announcers refer to four-or-six-lane highways
around big city as “arteries.”
It suggests that, in some ways,
roads, like blood in a vein,
carry a long history, a deep memory.
Just as your blood carries your genetic makeup,
every road tells a story.
For instance, roads in this part of the country
carry a history of buffalo hooves, moccasins.
cowboy boots and wagon wheels.
And the story continues today with
eighteen wheelers, RV’s and state troopers.
Roads carry memories.
And the deepest memory of all is this:
deep down, we are nomads,
we are travelers.
It’s in our blood!
So, today, lets pull off at a roadside stop
and take a look at the road we’ve been traveling together, you and I,
as we make our way through life.
What condition is it in? Where does it lead?
Maybe it resembles a section of Amarillo Boulevard,
A street crowded with no-tell motels, truck stops
and police cruisers and cars pulled to the curb
and German Shepherds on long leashes sniffing cars those cars for drugs.
Does that stretch of road make you sad?
Does it make you say a pray?
What I’m really asking is:
Does that highway cause you to think about God?
Prepare the Way of the Lord!
Or maybe the road that comes to mind
is more like I-40 heading to New Mexico.
Thousands of vehicles zipping by signs that flash out Amber Alerts…
they stare at you like eyes filled with tears:
Be on the lookout!
Someone is lost, someone precious is lost!
Help us! Someone, please, come our aid!
Does not that message remind you of Advent?
Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Come to our aid!
Prepare the way, cries St. John the Baptist, Prepare a highway for God!
On a Friday night, in the neon darkness of Amarillo Boulevard,
prepare a way for God!
On Farm-to-Market Roads
through small towns on the open plains,
in neighborhoods with abandoned houses falling down on their knees,
prepare the way for God!
Down city streets with Christmas lights,
reindeer and inflatable Santas,
prepare a way for the Lord.
Where? On the road!
Why? Because the Lord comes to meet us on the road.
Why? Because he comes to lead us home.
Home to the New Jerusalem where everything will be made new
and every tear will be wiped away.
This is the season of Advent.
This is the time to realize that true faith
is lived “on the go,” on the road.
Remember, it’s in our blood:
we are Nomads, Sojourners, Travelers!
One of the first names for the Church,
as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, was The WAY.
The Way of the Pilgrim.
The Way of the Cross.
“Pay attention!” cries the prophet, John.
“Know where you are going.
And keep your eyes on the road!”