Prepare the Way of the Lord

The Prophecy to Prepare

December 10, 2017 – Second Sunday of Advent

 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lordmake straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” ~ Isaiah 40:3 (NRSVACE)

In this season of preparation, self-reflection, and in accord with the theme of Advent we have now reached an important milestone of how we receive our savior. In that this preparation for a savior, the son of man, is an idea that spans time. It is an idea which was deeply ingrained in our human ‘higher cognitive process’ or in our way of thinking about God Himself. Prophet Isaiah taught that God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, and in those writings can be found the promise of salvation. This intangible, unattainable, most elusive promise of God called ‘salvation’ was also rooted deep within the people of Judah, for it was as much on their minds in the 8th century before Christ as it is ours today. Simply put my brothers and sisters, salvation takes center stage in the need for a savior, it demands there to be great preparations so that this singular event could come to fruition. In the first post of this Advent Season,  “Adventus – Time of Preparation, we can see God’s plan for a savior. In the second posting of this Advent Season, The Christmas Angel – Gabriel“, we see and celebrate God’s plan now put into action. In this, the third posting of this Advent Season we focus on yet another player sent by God which helps us navigate His complex roadmap that is designed to produce a savior – enter Isaiah the Greatest of all the Prophets. For the preparation that he delivers to us is one of ‘hope’; the spreading of this central idea that our savior comes and that he fulfills the prophecies told to countless millions throughout the ages. This same ‘hope’ remains as meaningful for those who had first experienced it as it still has for us today. For the plan was to spread the word first, then act upon it, and now to receive all the blessings that come with this new covenant with God. This season of preparing for Christ makes us ready to renew our love, faith, understanding, grace, and humility that Jesus himself bestowed all of which was rooted within the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah. For God granted Isaiah a special relevance within history; one that rings the bells and foretells the blessings that God pours out from Heaven; the first draft of what was to come.

The Messenger

1 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’ ~ Mark 1:1-3 (NRSVACE)

Isaiah foretell’s a forerunner to Christ, a person who would set the stage for salvation through repentance – enter John the Baptist. John serves as a messenger, as a baptiser filled with the holy spirit. He was first mentioned by the Angel Gabriel to our Mother Mary at her conception, then later Mary visits Elizabeth her cousin, the mother of John and he leaps in her womb. Nothing more is recorded until we get to the story of Jesus who stands before John in the river Jordan. John was a giant in his day, teaching about the coming of the Messiah, the savior and of the kingdom to come. The way to make your own personal path straight was through the act of baptizing, or submersion into water. Water universally had been the symbol of cleansing and was deeply rooted in the Jewish world with having to bathe before entering the temple. Jesus uses water to wash the feet of his disciples at the end of his ministry. But John takes this idea of salvation even higher through the process of baptizing as he states clearly;

‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” ~ Mark 1:7-8 (NRSVACE)

Again, the hope for a far greater more powerful authority, one to which the heavens and earth belong, the promise of salvation within the coming savior, son of God; all of which is still within the realm of preparation. John was tellings us to get right with God! He was bringing people closer to our creator through the only method available at the time; baptize. But more to the point John was also not neglecting to support the mainstream school of thought established by the writings and teaching of Isaiah. In many ways, these two men help us to receive our Lord and Savior in the right way, in the most meaningful of ways. The very message of salvation starts with getting your life in line with God’s plan for you, getting ready for the conversion of mind, heart, body, and soul. To be prepared for the coming of Christ Jesus so that your heart is renewed and your faith restored. To receive Jesus as our savior in the hope of his triumphant return.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Feeding the Multitude

Matthew 14:11-20

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. ~ Matthew 14:13-14.

THE CROWD

God see’s what we need. He see’s not just the physical but also the spiritual needs of every human being. In this God cares for use through grace, and it is this grace we call compassion do we the human race find true healing. The crowd followed Jesus not out of curiosity, but through the hunger they felt deep inside. The spirit within them needed to be feed. This crowd Jesus took compassion upon and healed the sick, but through their faith in him so too was their soul also mended. If you read the scripture just before Matthew 13 you will discover that Jesus had been told about His cousin John being beheaded. It was this which made Jesus seek seclusion. But even in this state of mind of grief Jesus was very much aware of the multitude and of their many needs. It was not His grief which took center stage but it was the needs of the living. Our God loves us so much He puts all other things aside and tends to us filling our heart, mind, and soul with the spiritual food we crave. For our God is truly a loving and compassionate God, one of grace and compassion.

15 “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’” Matthew 14:15

MAN’S COMPASSION

In this we see the compassion of man for the disciples of Christ noticed only one need, that of the flesh. For the people had by this point been following Jesus for some time, they had not gone home to eat, to take a bath, to tend to their flocks nor had they brought provisions. For the disciples, food took center stage in their compassionate plea to Jesus. But again as mentioned before God see’s all of our needs. So Jesus argued against not sending the multitude home for food, but rather argued to keep them close to tend to all their needs personally.

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” ~ Matthew 14:16.

GOD’S COMPASSION

Let’s take a moment and break this statement down as the disciples must have. There were hundreds of people of all ages. They were all in the wilderness nowhere close to any immediate food source and night was upon them. So to the disciples the question of feeding the multitude became one of,  “how”, shifting from their first concern of, “where”. For in this one statement by Jesus the responsibility then shifted from allowing the people to feed themselves to the disciples feeding them just as God feeds us.  Their confusion and misgivings, or lack of faith in both Jesus and in themselves prevented them from seeing this miracle which was to unfold and replaced it with blindness making it impossible for them to comply and is seen most readily within the comments they make next to Jesus,

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.~Matthew 14:17

BEGINNING OF THE MIRACLE

Here we see two concerns happening, the first is the amount of food, which is to be the disciples dinner. Secondly, the amount of food was not enough so logically it made no sense to keep the multitude with them.  Therefore, what must have struck the disciples the hardest was if they give what they have away then how or what were they going to eat. This disbelief of the disciples is the failing of every human being as we all tend to see the facts and discount the possibility of things we do not or cannot see in those facts. This then leads to lack of faith in God and His ability to see past the facts and pull forth the impossible. This also leads us to forget the love God holds for us, his caring nature, and his want in taking caring of all our needs. These two things lead us to falter and stumble even when we have seen His love in action before as the disciples had. The power which gripped the disciples in this moment was rooted in their inaction to believe in what they could not see, it was their refusal to look beyond the physical or to admit that they could feed thousands with so little food and this instead lead them to question if it could work even with the Son of God present, for this is called the power of doubt.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. ~ Matthew 14:18-19.

OUR GOD…

In all things our God is one of order, He is one who takes great care to account for each instant perfectly calling out each detail of our lives, deeds, misgivings, loves, worries, and triumphs. Our God is one of prayer, giving thanks for what you have for it was so delivered to us by God. Our God is one that provides everything that we need, in every instant that we live for all things belong to God. Our God is one that calls us forward to be His helper, teaching us what we need to know in every facet of our complicated lives. The lesson we see here is that God can do anything for His people, He can move mountains, build empires, create planets, and die a brutal death to cleanse us our sins, for there is nothing our God can not do. In giving the disciples the responsibility of feeding the multitude He teaches them how it is possible within the right frame of mind, heart, and soul to connect to our loving father in heaven who feeds us making the impossible possible.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful of broken pieces that were left over.21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. ~ Matthew 14:20.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

The miracle was in the belief that so many could be feed with so little food, with the prayer of thanksgiving, and with the compassion of God. For the Lord left no one out as everyone was feed and within this so too did the servants of Christ find that the love of God even extends to those who doubt such as they had. Our God leaves no one out from his gift giving as he keeps everyone in his sights like a good Shepard. Our God is fair and unchanging in his love that he gives to everyone of us. He calls each one of us to Him by name and within this He again knows what we individually need and so He cares for us the same. He leads us not astray but rather holds us close to Him and shelters us from evil and forgives us our sins in the same manner.

Amen

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 Special Note

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 As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.

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