Prepare the Way of the Lord

Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

Prepare the Way of the Lord

4 mins
December 7, 2021

Earlier this week, in one of my devotional reading, Promises for your everyday life by Joyce Meyer, she asked the question " God, how can you stand seeing all the pain, starving children, human trafficking, genocide, injustice, degradation, poverty, in the world and not do something?" And she wasn't really asking that question as a complaint or anything like that nor was she expecting an answer but God's answer came to her saying: I work through people. I'm waiting for my people to arise and do something. You know, God could send his angels to do his bidding but he chose and he chooses to work through us, and he's calling us to put on love and get to work. We are co-partners with God in ushering his kingdom. 

Our Gospel reading is written by Luke. Luke was a historian and so he was very concerned in citing the dates and names of various political leaders on the scene. As a historian, he wants to anchor the events he describes, in the larger political and historical scene of the world. So what's interesting about our text is the fact that a historian like Luke make a big deal about a preacher in the desert. John the Baptist is an itinerant preacher doing his ministry out in the wilderness – you know, the place nobody goes, at least not by choice. Why would an historian talk about a loner in the desert? A nobody? Well because it just so happens that it is to this man in the desert that the Word of the Lord came. Not the Emperor, or governor, or various rulers, or the high priests of the day, but John. God chose a nobody, in other words, to prepare the way for God’s own Son to come amongst us. Didn’t God check John’s resume before doing this? He’s a prophet and no one wants to hire a prophet, a marginalized figure, on the fringes of social acceptance. No wealth. No prestige. No power, seemingly. Just one prophetic voice crying out, yearning to get our attention here in Greenwood. And it is to him the word of God came. An unlikely person in an unlikely place.

What was God thinking? Look at all of the people God bypassed to be the divine spokesperson. “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 rule of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John . . . in the wilderness.” John vs seven important others. But these seven individuals are not just anybody. They are the movers and shakers of society. The VIPs of the day. The emperor, the governor, the rulers, the high priests. The political and religious leaders, the authority structures, those with power and prestige and wealth. The Ones who “reign and rule” the earthly kingdom. They don’t receive the word of God as we might expect. But the word of God came to a weirdo in the wilderness. God surprises us and suggests that his reign and kingdom function differently.

And that's really a particular theme of Luke throughout his gospel: that God regularly chooses people whom the world sees as insignificant through whom to do marvelous things. We already mentioned John the Baptist, a preacher in the desert. God's word came to him to prepare Jesus' coming. There's Mary. The illiterate unwed mom and teenager whom God chose to bring about our Savior. And how about the shepherds out in the fields watching their sheep? Shepherds were at the very bottom of the economic ladder. But it was to them that the heavenly choir showed up and announced the good news of our Savior's birth. Again and again, Luke confesses, God chooses people the world can easily ignore to participate in God’s world-changing, world-saving activity.

Just this past Friday, Misaina was watching the Frozen movie while I was working in my office. And I came down for lunch and she started singing "Momma, do you wanna build a snowman?" And I sang back "No I don't." But she was persistent, so she repeated "Momma, do you wanna built a snowman?" And I finally just said: "No, I don't! There is no snow" And OMG the look of disappointment on her face! We ate lunch in silence but of course the song was now stuck in my head so 10mn later, I turned to her and sang: "Misaina, do you wanna build a snowman?"  She looked at me and said:" No I don't

The thing is, in my head, there's gotta be snow outside in order to build a snowman. But that's not totally true. we could have just made our own snowman out of construction papers, and use markers and scissors, and all that craft stuff and she would have been happy with that. But for me, my mind was set that snowman can only be build outdoors when there is enough snow. 

The reason why I am sharing that story is to illustrate a point that we often times think that way too. We feel that we must have snow before we can build a snowman. We must be in this or that position before God can use us. We feel that we don't hold any particularly important status that would warrant being included in anyone's agenda and yet whom God may be eager to use to do wonderful things. 

Through our gospel reading from Luke today, we are learning that you don’t have to be celebrities or rulers or among the rich and powerful to be used by God. God is eager to use our talents and abilities and gifts to change the world, if even in what seems like very small ways that are, of course, not small at all to those who receive such gifts. Look at how God is at work through your relationships, your jobs, your family and your life and more to make this world more trustworthy and good. You don't have to have snow to build a snowman. Just be you and give yourself fully to God and watch how God works through you to be a blessing to those around you, to make this world a better place. 

God is at work in and through our lives for the sake of the world God loves so much. God is using ordinary people like you and me to do extraordinary things. And it is to ordinary people that the word of God came to. It came to John in the wilderness. The wilderness: No food, no water, no Facebook friends, no iPhone, no texting, no tweeting (like someone may be doing right now). A wilderness. A place of anxiety, fear, abandonment, more questions than answers, wandering like the children of Israel or being tempted like Jesus. A wilderness. A desert. Have you ever been there? Maybe you are there. A dry, thirsty place. Well, that’s where the word came. To an unlikely person in an unlikely place. And when the word of God comes, it changes you first and God uses you to touch others. It has ripple effects.

Let me read the gospel of Luke again but this time, I'm gonna make it more personal: In the fifteenth year of the twenty-first century, when Joe Biden was President of the United States, and Tom Wolf was governor of Pennsylvania, and Jim Kenney mayor of Philadelphia, and John Dorhauer General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, the word of the Lord came to Immanuel United Church of Christ in Greenwood, WI! That is the promise and the hope—that the word of God will come to you today in your existential, spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical, economic, or social wilderness. Don't wait for the snow to come to build a snowman. Give yourself fully to the Lord and He will use you just as you are to bless those around you and to change people's lives. If you've been waiting for the snow to build your snowman, shift your view. God is and has always been present with you. As you go throughout this week and this advent season, look at the ways how God has used you to bless others and how God is helping you make a difference in this world that he so loves.

This article was orginally reported by
Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

Rev. Asafa Rajaofero was born in Madagascar and serves as pastor of the United Church of Christ parishes in Greenwood and Owen, Wisconsin.