Thought for the Day : Tuesday 22 December

Thought for the Day by Angela Birkin (St Michael’s)

Prepare the way of the Lord!

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”                         

Isaiah 40 v.3.

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea proclaiming,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
         “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness;
          ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”       

Matthew 3. 1-3

We have spent the past four and a bit weeks preparing ourselves for both the coming of the Christ-child at Christmas, and the return of Jesus as Lord and Saviour at the end of time.

Now Advent is almost over, and what a strange and challenging Advent this has been, preparing us for a strange and challenging Christmas as, despite a vaccination programme having got underway, Covid-19 is still very much with us and remains a threat to ourselves and those we love.

The last six to seven months have felt very wilderness-like at times.

Isaiah prophesied to a people in exile from their homeland. That felt like being in the wilderness.

John the Baptist cried out in the wilderness to a people occupied by the greatest military power in the world. Their homeland felt like a wilderness too.

The good news, the Gospel,  is that our God comes to us even, and especially, when we are in the wilderness: when we are tired or struggling, isolated or anxious, afraid or despairing. We just have to be prepared to receive him.

This is the opening song from the 1973 film of Godspell, the musical composed by Stephen Schwartz with the book by John- Michael Tebelak based on St Matthew’s Gospel. The stage show opened in New York and in London in 1971, the London cast including David Essex, Marti Webb, Jeremy Irons and Julie Covington. I saw a version of the London stage show performed in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral on the BBC at Easter 1972. It changed my life!

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