Sunday, December 5, 2021: Second Sunday of Advent
Gospel – Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
I recently became aware of how often I tell stories that begin with something like, “About a year ago, I was talking to my younger sister, Cindy, and her husband, John, in their living room on Bridger North Drive in Carmel, Indiana, and she said …” Context. I begin my stories with context. I think I do this because context makes me more comfortable with moving in to story details and the meaty parts of what I am communicating. Context helps me connect with those who listen to or read the stories I tell. I see that starting with context creates an on-ramp, a warm-up period. It tells us where we are headed and gets us settled in for what is ahead. An image begins to form. We begin to personally relate with the story and see ourselves in it.
This passage begins with important context. Because we know “the rest of the story,” each of us has already formed an image and perspective on Herod’s role in the unfolding narrative and Pilate’s place in history. When we come to the words, “Prepare Ye the Way,” we already had ideas about “the Way” that is ahead. Again, this year, we create our personal plan to prepare. In essence, we see ourselves as part of the context of a larger story.
I invite you to go as far back in memory as you are able to find a personal Advent story or experience. Take time to recall as many details as you can. Where did this happen? Who was present? Who was not present? What time of day was it? How did you feel? Are there new details you had not recalled before this retelling?