Giving Community: Advent Day 5

“But forget all that—
   it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
   See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
   I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18–19 NLT)

Dashrath Manjhi lived in a remote village in northern India when his wife fell ill and died due to lack of readily available medical care. He spent the next twenty-two years using simple tools to carve a path through the hills separating his village from the closest community with medical care. His work transformed a journey that was once a choice between a short but perilous trip over the mountainous terrain or a 70-kilometer journey by road into a trip that is a safe walk of less than 2 kilometers.

Roads are intrinsically communal spaces. It is not simply the builders of the road who benefit, but all who come upon it. Roads also connect disparate communities. The road through the wilderness in Isaiah 43:19 is a prophecy that points in two directions: to the Lord bringing the Israelites back home after Babylonian captivity and to the coming of the Messiah, who will “guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:79). Both of the ways this prophecy in Isaiah is fulfilled are within community—the release of the Israelites from captivity allowed them to reestablish their collective identity as a people group, and all who have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit have been united as one in Christ.

Celebrate this unity in Christ that brings together disparate peoples and communities; examine your own life to see where you have built a dividing wall instead of carving a pathway through the wilderness, and ask God what you can do to correct it.