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Racine, WI 53405

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Make Straight the Way

In the Gospel of John, known for its mystical language, John the Baptist describes the One who is coming as Light, as one who is at God’s side. I understand it to mean that Jesus was so connected to the Divine as to be filled with the Light and Love of God, and in his fullness he offered us the gift of his light and his teachings of Truth as he knew it.

Megan McKenna, in her Advent book, nailed it for me, “[John] is a man of power, of passionate devotion to the honor of God, of forceful words of condemnation and fear of the Lord toward an errant and soulless people grown lax and self-absorbed. They are blind to the light, refusing to believe in the promises of God, giving testimony to disbelief, disobedience, divided loyalties, and living in ways that serve more to dishearten others in need than to give them hope.”

Sounds awfully familiar to me. It feels like we, as a society, are becoming disconnected from our souls and becoming more and more self-absorbed. More and more people know very little to nothing about God or spirituality and, frankly, they don’t care either. They are blind to the light of the Spirit, God, the Divine, Love Energy, whatever you want to call it. More and more people are living in ways which serve more to dishearten others than give them hope.

John's voice crying out in the wilderness wasn’t just in a physical wilderness, but a social wilderness of oppression, economic distress, discontent, fear, grief, frustration. And we’re there right now. “Make straight the way!” John calls out. Well, our way right now is about as straight as a strand of Christmas lights balled up from last year.

To make the way straight, John’s call echoes through the ages demanding that we witness to the light by the way we live and the things we say. This is unmistakably a call to justice. There is a weightiness to Advent in this call. It’s not all stockings and mistletoe, joy, peace, love and fluffy reindeer. Remember, Advent means coming, and part of what is “coming” is one who sought to bring justice back then, and whose spirit still urges us to seek justice now.

What is justice? The word is not about putting people in jail to serve time as punishment for wrongdoing. Justice is maintenance and administration of what is fair and equal for all people. Everyone is of sacred worth, everyone is worthy of respect, and all people were created equally.

Prophets call for change, not a change in the future. A change now. And they are prophetic because they are rocking the status quo, often risking themselves by proclaiming, and sticking to, their message.

A couple of weeks ago, Richard Rohr’s daily meditation talked about participating in movements for justice. He talked about three ways to do that.

The first level was about solving immediate needs: food, clothing, shelter, health care. Some folks call these efforts of justice mere band-aids. But we shouldn’t denigrate the programs that are on the front lines, helping people to survive. It may not solve the problem, but that is someone else’s role.

The second level of justice is about serving people before they are in dire need, through schools, hospitals, and social service ministries that empower them and offer positive possibilities for their lives.

The third level of justice is about activism. This is the challenging work of actually making lasting change to systems and laws. This is the world of protests, petitions, boycotts, resistance, speeches and advocacy.

We are not all called to all of these movements for justice, but the important thing is for all of us to be doing something for the rest of the world, something to make straight the way for the light.

Love & Light!

Kaye