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December 20, 2015

Prepare the Way of the Lord

by Fr. Ty Hullinger

Read Luke 3:1-6

How interesting it is that Luke introduces the preaching of John the Baptist (and Jesus) by first making us aware of the political landscape of the day and of its key power players: emperor, governor, tetrarchs, and high priests. It couldn’t have been easy times, because God calls forth prophets of justice from everyday people in difficult places and in challenging times. The work of organizing communities and congregations begins with the courage of men and women willing to give their voices over to this call.

The message seems so simple: Prepare the way of the Lord! But preaching and living this kind of message is a struggle. It is the struggle of organizing, of actually preparing a way for the Lord to open up hearts and minds to change. John’s message was filled with challenges to wake up and to change. Stop extorting! Stop stealing wages! The economy should serve the people! But these words of justice challenged the words of emperors and governors and the high priests of the day. And they are a challenge in our times too.

The struggle to win justice for workers will always come into direct conflict with the interests of governors and emperors and even high priests. But the courageous voice that speaks of worker justice helps to pave the first steps in the process of building a level road—an even playing field for all of God’s children. This is the work of organizing. And it is holy, prophetic and essential. And this work begins with a prophetic utterance of hope and with a commitment to work at changing the power dynamics at play. Workers win justice in the workplace when they accept the challenge of speaking hope to one another, and when they walk together along the path to a living wage for every worker, paid sick days for the care of the worker and her family, the right to keep organized and to form a union, the right to collectively bargain for a fair contract and fair work for all. John the Baptist cried out from the desert, and the world has changed. It didn’t happen all at once, and it hasn’t happened without real struggle. And it isn’t complete. Not yet. Not by a long shot. And this is why we need Advent—to wake us up to the prophetic moment of today. And to give us the courage to raise our voices and to organize for the change that is still needed for every working family.

Prepare the way of the Lord . . .

In other words . . . Organize!

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