Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Comfort my People

Isaiah 40:1  Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. 3  A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5  Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 6  A voice says, "Cry out!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8  The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. 9  Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" 10  See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11  He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
..............Isa 40:28  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29  He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30  Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31  but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

I am always deeply moved by the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The key passage that unlocks this music is the opening text from Isaiah 40: “Comfort ye, my people”. This is a word from God to the children of Israel that their time of exile is over and the prophet was to announce their restoration.

This is a word that has become greater than a particular period in history. This becomes a word for every generation – a word calls every Jesus-follower to bring comfort to people by telling them that the “glory of the Lord shall be revealed”. This revelation takes place through the quality of lives of Christian people. We are to bring the Christ-light of joy, peace and justice into a dark world..... and so comfort those who live in fear and darkness.  

Let us use this Christmas to remind people of the restoring / comforting work of God. It is this – and only this – that drives the celebrations of this season.

For Thought
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

Messiah, HWV 56 (Handel, George Frideric)

Fourth Sunday in Advent
4.  God is with us
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 32.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.     

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