FreerangeFriday: Prepare the Way of the Lord

by Lilly Lewin
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By Lilly Lewin

Celtic Advent started this week… the Orthodox and Celtic Christians use the 40 days before Christmas to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Light of the World. I love this practice because it helps me focus on something other than the craziness of the world. I start my candles differently each year, usually subtracting down to the 4 traditional Advent Candles in December. On Sunday & Tuesday at ThinplaceNASHVILLE, we focused on Isaiah 40 and the voice of one calling in the wilderness “Prepare the way of the Lord”. We prayed with rocks and sand! So our centerpiece for Advent represents the wilderness with sand and rocks. I added candles to pray for friends who are sick along with the Christ candle (Light of the World) in the center! It’s been so long since I’ve used tea lights in a worship setting, I had forgotten how long they burn. It was a great reminder of God’s/The Light’s presence with me!

Light a candle today to help you remember that the Light is shining brightly, even in the darkness!

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Celtic Advent Centerpiece

1-2 “Comfort, oh comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence,
that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough,
and now it’s over and done with.”

3-5 Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”

6-8 A voice says, “Shout!”
I said, “What shall I shout?”

“These people are nothing but grass,
their love fragile as wildflowers.
The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,
if God so much as puffs on them.
Aren’t these people just so much grass?
True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,
but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.”

9-11 Climb a high mountain, Zion.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!
Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

What images or phrases of comfort do you notice in this passage?

How do you need to be comforted today? What comfort do you need? Talk to Jesus about this.

Who in your life needs the comfort of Jesus today? Take time to pray for them.

As Advent begins, how do you need to prepare for the arrival of Jesus? What do you want or need to do to prepare your heart? What do you need to stop doing? What unforced rhythms of grace would you like this holiday season? How do you need to make your path to straight to prepare for the arrival of Jesus?

ACTION:
Create an Advent Centerpiece for the Season of Advent. You will need a round tray or plate. Cover it with a layer of sand or sugar used to represent the sand. This is your wilderness.

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A pathway for our God

You will need candles, tea lights or larger candles. You will need several rocks/stones.

How have you felt like you are in wilderness in this year? How has the land of Covid felt like a wilderness to you? Talk to Jesus about where you are today.

Draw a path in the sand. Take some time to consider the what kind of road/path you’ve been walking lately. What Rocks have been in your way?

Hold a rock in your hand. Consider the ROCKS/STONES that are blocking your path with Jesus right now. Talk to Jesus about this. Ask Jesus to help you remove the stones and make your path straight. Give these stones to Jesus to hold.

Put a special candle in your center piece to represent the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, JESUS. You can add more candles to your wilderness to represent the four traditional weeks of Advent: HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE and/or candles to light to remind you to pray for those who are sick or hurting in your world.

Wilderness

Wilderness

What is a symbol of comfort that you can use this Advent to remind you that Jesus wants to wrap you in his arms of love and carry you like a lamb? What represents comfort to you?

Take time to listen to Handel’s Messiah. Specifically listen to “Comfort Ye, Every Valley”

Since this year the holidays will be different than most, how can you bring COMFORT and JOY into your life?

How can you bring COMFORT AND JOY into someone else’s life this Advent Season? Could you buy dinner for someone else for Christmas? Could you get an extra gift card for someone in need? Ask Jesus to show you. Talk to your family and friends about this.  Maybe you can go in with a group of friends to help someone else have a better holiday and not feel lost in the wilderness.

As you consider how you can prepare the way of the Lord this year, remember that Jesus is with you in all the places of your life. Those that feel like mountain tops and those that feel more like the wilderness or the desert. He loves you more than you can ever imagine!

Light the candles each day during Advent. You can continue to remove the rocks that are getting in your way with Jesus, and/or you can continue to draw new paths in the sand to remind you that Jesus is making a way in your desert! AMEN

©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com

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