In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 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.'”
Meditation for Sunday December 6, by Christopher Wells
In Advent, the Christian year begins again. What does this mean for us personally? It means that we have another chance to walk with Jesus and find that he is walking with us, along the way that God has “prepared for us to walk in” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 339). In this way, on this road, God the Father helps us to “make his paths straight” by being born again with his Son, listening to his word, taking up our cross, dying every day, rising again to new life, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As they are lived and followed by Christians, the original order of the events in Jesus’ life no longer particularly matters. Every aspect of the story is true, and each interprets the other. From our perspective in history, as we meditate on his passion and death, bearing the sins of the whole world, we know that he is also already risen. In moments of fear or sadness, in the throes of depression, or facing terrible pain and suffering, we may cry for this cup to pass from us—and find that the Holy Spirit has gone before, guiding our prayer, interceding “with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). If we do not know Jesus, we may anticipate meeting him for the first time, but he was always with us! In each way, God graciously shapes us into the form of Jesus; and because we are mortal and sinful, with so much to learn, God in Christ comes to us again and again, making everything new. As the psalmist exclaims: “All my fresh springs are in you” (Psalm 87:6).
Along this pilgrim way, God gives us friends with whom to practice the praises of God, given in the glorious company of the apostles and the fellowship of prophets, with noble martyrs, and the holy Church throughout the world. With John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Elizabeth, and our own faithful companions, both those who are living and those who have passed away, we sing in gratitude to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” That is, I am in awe of you, Lord, and in awe of what you have done. I am in awe that you created me and grateful that you hear me when I call. This is the beginning of the response of every disciple: our preparation for the Word made flesh, again, in our own hearts and lives.
Christopher Wells has served as executive director of the Living Church Foundation since September 2009. He holds a Master’s degree from Yale and a doctorate from Notre Dame and edits The Living Church, a biweekly magazine with news and theological reflections. In 2014 he completed a round as theological consultant to the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the U.S. (ARC- USA), and he serves on the board of the American Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He is a member of the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Soul Proclamations: Singing the Magnificat with Mary is a new collection of daily meditations for the Advent season. Authors include broadcast journalist Ray Suarez; Christopher Wells, editor of The Living Church; Kate Moorehead, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral; Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio; and Christine McSpadden of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The book invites you to share Mary’s journey through the Advent and Christmas seasons. To walk with Mary each day this Advent, order a copy of the full volume of Soul Proclamations ($5).