Yesterday I had a good romp in the newly fallen snow. It was amazing. As I was running, plowing through piles of snow, splashing in puddles and playing with my friends, I got to thinking about this road we are on in this Advent season.
The road to Bethlehem is never a solitary journey. We have fellow travelers in faith and uncountable others who require our care and compassion along the way. We are all fellow-travelers on this journey.
Of course, the #1 traveler with us on the road to Bethlehem is Jesus himself. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” That word “Emmanuel” literally means in Hebrew “God With Us.” “With” is God’s middle name. John the Baptist preached about the coming of Emmanuel, whose very sandals, John said, he was not worthy to untie. We must make room for Jesus to join us on this journey. This is why John’s message of “repentance” is so important.
So many have rooms so filled with clutter and junk that they have no room for anything new to enter, no room for anything new to happen next, no room for Emmanuel to be born again in our lives. Repentance is cleaning out the “stall material” from our hearts and lives so that we can find the energy and vision to encounter and engage the Child born on Christmas day.
So friends are you stalled out, are your peeps? Is it "stall" cleaning time in your life? Is it time to let go of “stuff,” to clean out the chaotic places in our journey and make room for something new to be born within us and among us?
The Spirit of the Living God can make your ‘stalled’ places a nursery where the Spirit could be born.
John the Baptist gathered crowds alongside the river in order to invite them to step into the water, to leap into a new life. Then they got working. John put people “on the road” by giving them something more than being “wet-behind-the-ears.” He gave them a road map for their new relationship with God.
The road to Bethlehem is one we travel every year. But it is not a super-highway with six smooth lanes of asphalt going whatever way we are headed. It is a narrow road with many obstacles and potholes. And oh, what problems potholes can cause.
But us furry ones, like children in big rubber boots, have another name for pot-holes. We call them mud puddles. Mud puddles are momentary mysteries encountered on the road.
How deep are they? How much splash can we make? How many times can we jump in them before they empty out? Pot-holes are a pain. Mud puddles are an adventure.
Life is not just filled with pristine pools and clean water. Life is filled with dirty pits and miry places. The only difference is whether we curse at them or splash our way joyfully through them, trusting in the Providence of God. Jesus turns potholes into mud puddles.
On the road to Bethlehem this Advent, will you let Jesus turn your damaging potholes into wonder-filled mud puddles? No pothole is so big, so bruising, so burying that Emmanuel can’t turn it into a marvel-making mud puddle.