A Leveling for Wholeness
by the Rev. Ashley Taylor
As we reflect on the natural calling to care for and restore the earth, the gospel’s words about the earth’s terrain particularly catch my attention. In Luke, John’s proclamation of “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” is likened to what the prophet Isaiah imagines as a dramatic leveling of all barriers for the Messiah’s presence. Unlike the prophet’s vision of wholeness, when we see valleys being filled, mountains being made low, crooked ways straight, and rough places smooth, it means that modern day Herods and Roman Empires have been polluting, extracting, exploiting, and compromising the earth’s limited resources.
Surely Luke was not calling out bulldozers, dynamite, and atomic bombs to clear a path for the Messiah. But the prophets of whom Luke tells, and every event in Jesus’ ministry, cry out for us to thoroughly live in the ways of justice and faith in God’s design for wholeness.
If the Advent invitation is for us, in this age, how can the gospel’s imagery spark a transformative moment? How can this season be the time to “repent,” (to acknowledge the whole truth, experience the impact of the truth, and allow the transformation God leads), and practice forgiveness in such a way that our inner landscape appears leveled – and whole?
Prayer: Radiant One, may the mountains be leveled, not by mining companies stripping the earth, but by your courage in us to remove the obstacle of greed for more than the earth can sustain. May “all flesh see your salvation” – the wholeness that is your great design. Amen.
The Rev. Ashley Taylor is pastor with the North Highland Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO. This congregation is re-creating “church” by becoming a neighborhood center that helps develop local, small businesses, bartering, urban gardens to feed the city, and spirituality that can help sustain and inspire varieties of people.