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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Today’s Reading | Isaiah 40:1–11  

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 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.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 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. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 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. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

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!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 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. (NRSV)

To comfort and to cry. Both activities are mentioned in the words from Isaiah. In these days of relentless distress, I want comfort. “Comfort, comfort my people.” But there is little of it. The bad news escalates and doesn’t diminish.

I also keep crying, the whole while asking what the writer of Isaiah asks: “What shall I cry?”

We are hard pressed given the world news and the attacks on humanity to know what our cry should be. Should we be crying out about the impermanence of nature? “The grass withers” so none of this will last? In other words, “Why worry? Be happy!” Or should we be crying out for comfort on all of God’s people? Or should we be proclaiming God’s power and permanence despite whatever evil is taking hold? The answer is probably yes to all of the choices.

But there’s something more. And that is “to make straight in the desert a highway for God.” That is, to do what we can in our own worlds to pave a pathway for God. Maybe that should be our primary cry. Then comfort will come little by little.

Dear God, please hear my cries for comfort for your people and for me. And guide me in making a straight pathway for you in whatever ways I can. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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