Experience silence in the midst of your busy day. Take some time to relax into a time to be with God.
Isaiah 40:1-11 (NRSV)
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.
Imagine hearing a voice crying out, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”. What kind of scene might you imagine? Perhaps you would expect a military procession, or perhaps a royal or papal one. You might imagine the crowds shuffling into lines on either side to create a path, maybe expressing their anticipation in shouts of joy or showing respect through silence. Or maybe you imagine people fleeing in panic and fear, searching for a hiding place.
I find it curious how Isaiah embraced both the majesty and the intimacy of God’s presence. Yes, God is clearly described as a powerful and mighty ruler, but also as a gardener who breathes life over the grass and flowers to sustain them. Later the description is of a shepherd who gathers the sheep into his bosom.
Our scriptures are full of a diverse range of images that describe who God is and what God is like, and Isaiah contributed significantly to the collection. The gardener and shepherd offer us two intimate metaphors and two of the intimate actions: breathe and touch.
Sometimes the appropriate response to God’s presence is fear and reverence, but sometimes it’s an openness to receive God’s love and affection.
Loving God, who holds us like a shepherd and tends for us like a gardener, draw close to us that we may receive your breath of life and your comforting touch. Help us to make the path straight, that we may be ready to receive your presence today, and share it with all we meet. Draw close, we pray. Amen.
Go with God.