And Zechariah said,

 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.

78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,

79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

“Light” and “peace.”

If I am going to be one who is able to “prepare” the way for “light” and “peace” I must first find “light” and “peace” within myself. I cannot sow the seeds of that which I lack.

The path to “light” and “peace” lies along the way of “forgiveness”. The Greek word used here by Luke is aphesis. It means “release from bondage.”

When I cling to my rights, demands, needs, wants, and desires, I place myself in bondage to that small tyrant who so often assumes control of my life.

Every small choice in each moment of my day places my feet either “into the way of peace,” or towards bondage. There are no small choices, no irrelevant decisions.

john-baptist-wildernessJohn the Baptist lived out “in the wilderness” because the wilderness is the place where we are stripped bare. “In the wilderness” there are fewer distractions and so we are forced to face those places where we are bound and to confront those habits and patterns in our lives that get in the way of “the tender mercy of our God,” being manifest in and through our lives.

There is nothing any of us actually wants more than to know “the tender mercy of our God,” so that we might bear the beams of light in the world and bring peace through or lives.

What is the “bondage” from which I need to be released if I am going to “prepare” the way for “light” and “peace” to be born in the world?

What practices and habits help or hinder me from experiencing “the tender mercy of our God” in my life?