Last week, I wrote about how Advent is a time of expectation, of tense anticipation.
This week, I want to point out that it's a time of preparation also.
Today we're remembering John the Baptist, who appears in this icon.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
The voice of someone crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God".
This prophecy found its fulfilment in John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was calling on his followers to turn away from their sinful past, to put right their relationship with God, to "Prepare the way for the Lord". To repent and be baptised. Baptism -- a ceremonial washing -- was common at the time for non-Jews converting to Judaism. John was calling on Jews to be baptised, which was a new idea.
John's message was to prepare for the advent of God, and Christians are called upon to do the same, in the run up to Christmas.
On Jordan's bank, the Baptist's cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come then and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings from the King of kings.
Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
Make straight the way for God within;
And in each heart prepare a home
where such a mighty guest may come.
All praise, eternal Son, to thee
Whose advent sets thy people free,
Whom, with the Father, we adore,
And Spirit blest, for evermore.
Charles Coffin, 1676-1749
translation: John Chandler, 1806-1876
Full set of [LC] posts here.