Prepare the Way
By Carol DeSchepper, Spiritual Director, ELPNA Executive Director
Listen, I hear someone is shouting, ‘Make a highway for the Lord through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all people will see it together.’ Isaiah 40: 3-5
Think with me for a moment about the roads and highways you drive on every day. What are they like? Do they go basically north and south, east and west (like many roads in the Midwest) – or are they curving one direction or another so it would be hard to give someone directions to a defined location? I’ve driven down streets like that and give thanks for MapQuest or GPS navigation! I’ve lived on gravel roads that could be muddy and bumpy, depending on the weather conditions. I’ve lived on asphalt highways and nice smooth streets.
I think of this scripture sometimes when I’m driving out in the country and I see a road that goes up and down, but basically reaches out in a seemingly straight, endless ribbon, visible in front of me for miles and miles. As I’ve traveled other parts of the country, there are roads that climb so high and steep, that I get anxious driving them … there are hairpin turns and deep, deep valleys that make me feel like I’m spiraling to the center of the earth and will never find my way back up.
In this scripture passage, John the Baptist is beckoning that the people make a straight, smooth road to welcome the Messiah. This Advent I ask you to meditate on what stands in the way of Christ’s arrival in your home, in your heart and soul. Have you done all you can to make the way straight so he can easily come near, enter, and live within? If not, what needs to be done to prepare the way and ‘roll out the red carpet’ for the King?
Prayer: Long awaited King, help my heart to be ready to welcome you. What roads should I make straight in my life and how can I help make the road smooth and straight for others? Am I also a voice crying in the wilderness, hoping to be heard? What am I saying that will make a difference in my life and in the lives of others? I am awaiting your arrival with great anticipation. Amen.
Resources for Spiritual Growth and Development
Center for Action and Contemplation
Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province and the Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This is a wonderful spiritual resource from author and retreat and conference speaker, and spiritual "midwife". Joyce has a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in English, a M.R.E. (Masters in Religious Education), and a M.A. (Master of Arts) in Transpersonal Psychology. She is a member of the Servite Community (Servants of Mary) and was a volunteer for Hospice for fifteen years. She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa. To sign up for her monthly newsletter go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Grace from Women of the ELCA (WELCA)
Daily Grace is an on-the-go companion for your journey, offering a faith reflection every day. Encounter God’s extravagant, boundless and often surprising grace by signing up for a daily email message. You can also download the newly updated app for your IOS and Android devices.
God Pause Daily Devotion
Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience.
Melissa's Prayer Journal: The Power of Prayer in the Face of Cancer
ELCA Daily Bible Reading
There you will find a link to sign up.
If you are drawn to Lectio Divina as a prayer practice, Lectio365 is a daily devotional virtual resource that helps you pray the Bible every day. Written by leaders from the 24-7 Prayer movement, this resource helps you engage with the word, fix your eyes on Jesus, and connect with God in prayer.
TEXT & AUDIO – Read or listen to every devotional.
The app is free and is available through the Google Play store.
Spiritual Direction – Seeking a Spiritual Companion
Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)
Some of you may wish to seek a spiritual director as a way to nurture your own spirituality. Spiritual maturity and growth is critical for the parish nurse. As you support others in body, mind, and spirit, tending to your own soul is important. Spiritual Direction is only one way of keeping yourself centered and grounded spiritually. You perhaps have other disciplines and practices that meet this need for you.
Contact Carol DeSchepper for a more in-depth discussion of Spiritual Direction, including access to a web site to locate a Spiritual Director.