Saturday, December 24, 2011

Guide Our Feet Into the Way of Peace

December 24, 2011

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Advent

"Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!" Nathan answered the king, "Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you." 1 Samuel 7:2-3

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79


Father, as the sun lights our way today, help us get on the right path to be with your Son mentally, emotionally and physically. Send forth your Spirit to give us the prudence to take the right steps at the right time, the sense of justice to moderate our needs compared with the needs of others, the restraint to avoid detours from the path of Your peace, and the strength to overcome of fears and uncertainties or endure whatever confronts and intimidates us from your way. Amen.


We all know the most famous part of the journey in tonight's story. From Nazareth to Bethlehem. The map tells us that is about 97 miles on foot taking today's roads and probably at least a two day walk with decent Timberland or Merrill Hiking boots. Without benefit of those roads and today's equipment, the hills, dunes, and mountains along the way would probably take a sandal-ed carpenter, his pregnant wife and a donkey several days.

King David understood the ironic difference and distance between where he was living and God's lack of a suitable temple for the Ark of the Covenant. He chose to close that physical distance even though Nathan counseled the king that the Lord was already right there with him in the House of Cedar.

Zechariah also had a journey -- but a much more interior journey. He was in the temple when he encountered the angel with the message about his soon-to-be born son, John. Zechariah had to journey beyond his doubts to where he needed to be to witness to the miraculous birth of his son by a wife advanced beyond typical child-bearing years. Thanks to Zechariah getting over his interior obstacles, he was also able to get over the cultural obstacles such as the name chosen by the angel. This the Canticle of Zechariah (which is recounted in Morning Prayer daily) reminds us that John pointed his people and us on the way to the path of peace.


Have you spent too much time inside the malls over the last few weeks or months getting ready for the civil, commercial side of this Holy Day? Now is the time to cross that distance and consider where you will be physically with the Lord. For some it might be in a church. For others it might be snow-bound in the west under the blizzard blanket of snow in New Mexico. For others still it might be working in a hospital or nursing home where you cannot take a holiday from your service. Others they will find themselves jailed like John and Jesus also would be eventually. If not jailed by government authorities, others will be in the prison of poverty, mental illness, social isolation or unemployment. And although our friends in the military may have taken the colors down in Iraq, their colleagues remain in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and other troubled spots around the world.

On this eve before Christmas, where are you? Where is the Lord? How in the world will you come together on the same path tomorrow and every day after that?

Maybe you have to cross a physical distance to be with Him. Maybe you also have to overcome some interior obstacles. In either case, ask yourself the question of "Whose course has to change to make it so?" Nathan reminds us, "Your God is already here."