What do you need when the world makes no sense? What do you need when your world has been destroyed?
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak 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. ”
That seems like a good start.
Our passage this week comes from Isaiah of the Exile, 2nd Isaiah, the first 11 verses of chapter 40. You can read the passage here.
To a people in exile YHWH sends a word of comfort and hope and promise. Your time of trouble (and punishment) is coming to an end. I actually preached this passage on Advent 1 this year. I began the sermon by asking folks to list the things in the world that lead to despair. It wasn’t a hard question for them to answer. There are ALWAYS reasons to despair. But that is the world into which the Christ Child is born. In a world of despair, in a world which all to often makes no sense, in a world of pain we receive the Word of peace and hope and comfort.
Which really means that the work is just getting started.
In the rest of the passage we are told to do two things. Build a highway and proclaim the good news. A coin toss (or your personal preference) may be needed to determine which one of these is the easier task.
Highway building is hard work. There are tons of earth to be moved around, swamps to be filled in or bridged, obstacles to be blown up or gone around. It isn’t as simple as drawing a trail in the dirt. What is the route of the highway we need to help build this Advent? What is the path that will lead us to the manger where the glory of the Lord will be revealed? Call in the bulldozers and excavators!
As for the second task. (Does that mean we do it after the highway is built or can we start sooner than that?) What Good News do we proclaim into this broken, aching, weeping world in Advent of 2015? We tell them that God is here, we tell them that God will feed the flock like a shepherd, we tell them that God is in charge (despite all the evidence to the contrary). As people who expect the birth of the Prince of Peace, can we do any other?
Proclaiming the Good News and building a highway await. Let the work begin (continue?)
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