I don't know if you've ever been in Central London when a visiting head of State is being taken to Buckingham Palace, too – they close off the roads, and there are motorcycle outriders and lots of police to ensure the visiting personage has a clear ride. They go and prepare the way.
And I expect you heard on the news this week what happens if they fall down on the job – the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were driven straight into the middle of student rioters and their car was bounced and scratched. Their security people had failed to prepare the way.
Well, you can see where this is leading, can't you? John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah. The prophet had said “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”, and whether that originally referred to Jesus, or to a local ruler of the day doesn't matter, as it came to mean Jesus and John.
And, of course, we need to prepare for Jesus, too. Getting ready for Christmas isn't just about presents and cards and thinking about a festive meal, although of course it can and does involve all that. It's also about preparing for Jesus. Christmas isn't just a remembering thing, it's also about inviting Jesus into our lives and homes and hearts now, today, at the end of 2010. We make that formal in the New Year, when we have our Covenant Service, of course – but we need to prepare for the coming of our Lord, and make him welcome!
Alsace Trip, 30 March
1 hour ago