Pastor Steve Lindeman
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St.
Cedar Springs, MI 49319
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God …” Isaiah 40:3 (NLT)
We have entered into the season of Advent and the four weeks of preparation for the coming of the Christ child. During these days, we hear from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke—those books that express the events surrounding Jesus’ birth—of how God entered into the world. But the first baby that we encounter is not Jesus; it is John. The opening verses of Luke tell us the story of how Gabriel appeared to Zachariah in the Temple to announce that his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to John the Baptizer—the man who would prepare the way for the coming of our Lord.
In a way, our season of preparation for Christmas mirrors the Gospel story. God was moving before the birth of Jesus to make preparations for his coming. But the preparations hadn’t begun there.
We often hear about the prophesies of the Old Testament telling us about the coming Messiah; the Holy Scripture found in Isaiah are often read during this time of the year. But there is also a time between the Old and the New Testament that we don’t often talk about when God was also moving to make preparations for the Messiah. They are often referred to as the Silent Years. The Word of God was not present with the people from the time of the words of the last prophet until the opening verses of the Gospels. The Silent Years span about 400 years. However, just because God was silent doesn’t mean that he wasn’t moving the pieces in place to achieve his plan to send his son, Jesus Christ into the world. Characters that are familiar to us from the life of Jesus, never mentioned in the Old Testament, are ushered onto the scene. The Pharisees and Sadducees and the leadership structures of the Temple are brought into form. The Roman Empire, a significant force in the life of Jesus, invades Israel. Even during a time when it seems that God is not present, he is moving the pieces on “the chessboard” as he prepares us for the birth of Jesus.
The four weeks of preparation throughout Advent is only a small piece of what God has designed for us. We need to know that even when God seems silent, he has been preparing us for the coming of the Christ child, long before we were ever aware of his actions. God has been working through all of history to prepare us for that moment in time—the time that Jesus would enter into the world and bring salvation for each and every one of us. So, during this season, let us prepare, let us truly prepare—prepare our hearts, prepare our minds and prepare him room—by praying, reading the Holy Scripture, participating in worship, loving God and loving one another. This is what this season is for.