Cathedral News, December 10, 2017


“Prepare ye the way of the Lord” is probably one of the most well-known taglines from Advent in history. So many versions of this one saying in multiple languages have been set to music to aid in the prayer-life of Christians down through the ages. Another well-known piece of this verse is “the mountains will be brought low and the valleys will be lifted up”. If you are a proud person like me, or if you are concerned with pride, then you know that I tend to fix my attention on the part about mountains and forget the second part. I am constantly worried about being laid low and humbled. The church has been consistent in paying attention to this part also, and I think that it does a disservice to the poetic symmetry of the verse. It doesn’t help that normally when we “prepare” we are preparing for something awful: like bad news or a punch in the face.

So, in order to get us to a place where we can be joyful in Advent, I suggest that we change our language slightly and see if that helps. Let us “wait” and “expect”, rather than “prepare”; and let us rejoice that valleys within us are being lifted up, rather than seeing ourselves as the mountains to be laid low. In reality, we are called to do both during Advent; but worrying comes so natural this time of year that I fear we may lose the genuine joy that comes from expecting the good that comes after our excited and nervous expectation. We are called to do both, so let us do both.

I do not think that we fixate on the first part about mountains on purpose. I listened to a presentation recently about anxiety in which a scientist pointed out that the reason why we all experience anxiety the way we do is that our ancestors were the anxious ones. The ones that did not worry did not live long enough to reproduce in the harsh world our ancestors lived in. So the fact that we hear the word “prepare” and fling our hands in front of our faces is not really our fault.

But we have much to be joyful about in our expectation this Advent. A new leader means a chance for new life, a chance to start fresh and to start anew, a chance to breathe new life into parts of our life together that need to be reexamined. What better time is there to start anew than Advent, the season of waiting and the beginning of the new church year?

Read the rest of the announcements.