by Rev. Javier Olivares, West District Superintendent
“I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’.” John 1:23
I was helping a family member placing ceramic tile on a floor. These were large tiles of about two feet by two. I was helping with the batter mix. My relative did most of the work, I just mixed the cement. I learned that setting ceramic tile on a cement floor is not that easy and is complex, especially if the floor is not leveled. You need materials like a string and levels to see what places are lower and which are higher. When you have a bad uneven cement floor, it means that the person did not do a good job of using levels. So, when you are placing ceramic tile, you have to be careful how much mix you will put on the tiles so you they can stick to the floor leveled. If you have a floor uneven, you may trip or slip if it had an inclination. Or in some bad jobs you can have parts of the floor where you can see clearly the unevenness.
John was a voice preparing the people who would hear the living Christ but moreover one who would work to make a straight way for the Lord. What this meant was to live with integrity and be the prophetic voice to his people. This phrase comes from Isaiah 40:3-5 where Isaiah is preaching to Judah and making straight the way or highway meant to prepare the way for the visit of a monarch.
As Christians we are always preparing the way for Christ. Not only during Advent but all year long, the people we meet, the community we’re trying to reach, our co-worker, classmate, supervisor, friend, opponent, we are constantly preparing the way of the Lord with the way we live. Do we build uneven roads where people can trip or fall? Or do we build leveled highways where people can brisk walk?
Our buildings many times reflect our theological perspective, our core values. There are churches who thinking of the elderly build ramps or rails to the chancel area. Churches who think of people with disabilities and build ramps, expand spaces so people in wheelchairs can enter. There are churches who think of children and have a space for them in the sanctuary. This is only on aspect of leveling the road.
During the time when our churches were closed because of Covid, many asked how come the church across the street is open and why we are not?
- Could it be that we were leveling the road, straightening it so others would walk safely, cared for?
- Could it be that we cared deeply for our parishioners with that love Jesus asked us to love with?
- Could it be that we pastors understood the suffering and discouragement of our people but wanted the best for them, keeping them safe on a leveled road and keeping them away from hazardous objects or potholes that they could fall?
We are constructors, builders of roads that lead to Christ. Make a straight way for the Lord!