Prepared for Advent
Be prepared. That is the Boy Scout motto. It is short and simple and memorable. I was a Boy Scout for about four years and I think if there is one thing I’ve taken from Scouting and cherished my whole life it is that motto.
I joined scouts very early when I was only 10 or so. I was below the normal age but they made an exception because I had two older brothers. My very first camp out was a challenging winter camp out with no tents, only hand-made shelters on top of the snow. My parents actually sent me out with just an indoor sleeping bag. Talk about not prepared! That was a tough lesson to learn. I was totally and completely unprepared.
Thankfully, two older boys saw that I would probably freeze to death and they packed me in right between them underneath their many specialized blankets. I learned that being prepared mattered a whole lot.
God sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival. It seems appropriate to remember John during the season of Advent. In human terms it may seem unnecessary. What sort of preparation or introduction could Jesus possibly need? The answer is that the preparation was for us, not him. We need to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord in our lives.
John’s ministry was one of repentance and confession and baptism. There was an emphasis of turning away from sin and turning toward Christ. Law then Gospel. Confession then Absolution. People came to John and listened to his preaching in the wilderness. Once they were convicted of their sins, then he pointed them to the answer: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The answer is greater than the problem, but the problem does need to be recognized if we are to prepare for God’s answer.