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.
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.”
During the Christmas season, and especially on Christmas morning, my house plays a recording of Handel’s oratorio Messiah. The second movement features a tenor solo, singing the first verses of this Isaiah passage. The melody is calm and gentle. I can’t exactly put into words why, but that second “comfort” in the first line somehow influences the rest of the scripture passage to me. It seems to put so much emphasis on the reassuring, empathetic nature of God.
The text reads like poetry, especially in how it lays out the various roles God plays in our lives: comforter (verses 1-2), merciful forgiver (verse 2), unifier (verse 5), source of stability (verses 7-8), mighty sovereign (verse 10), and gentle shepherd (verse 11). This passage from Isaiah encompasses so much of what we as the Church understand about our maker! It is no wonder that Handel decided to use it in his musical masterpiece.
No matter the season of our lives, Isaiah reminds us that God is with us. In times of struggle, God consoles. When we make mistake, God meets us with grace. When we experience difficult and unforeseen changes, God remains constant. Finally, when we get lost, wandering aimlessly through a world of hurt, greed, prejudice, and oppression, God “gathers the lambs,” “carries them close,” and “gently leads those that have young.” Thanks be to God!
Dear Holy Spirit, we know you are present with us always. Our faith sometimes falters, but even then you don’t abandon us. We pray that we may be the same comfort to others. Amen.
Go with God!