Reflecting on Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
It turns out everything I’ve ever taught about chapter forty of the prophet Isaiah was wrong. It’s written for an exiled people living 25 centuries ago! Wrong. It’s meant to give hope to the disconsolate Jews living in Babylon! Wrong. It’s shoring them up to be brave as they decide whether to trust God and go back to Israel, or to stay put! Wrong.
No, no, no. If ever we can appropriate an ancient sacred text and know that it was written for our time, it’s Isaiah’s words of consolation. I’ll bet they jumped right off the page when you heard (or read) them this weekend.
Comfort, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Proclaim that her service is at an end. Imagine being an exhausted and sick health care worker, hearing for the first time in a year (please God, let this be done in a year!) that the pandemic is over. You can now go home and sleep for a week.
In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! We know about deserts now. We know about grandparents, desperate to squeeze their far-away grandbabies, desperate to not miss a minute more of their precious babyhood. We know about children, longing for friends and teachers, and parents, longing for them even more! That’s a desert too.
But fear not, dear friends. God is near. Like a shepherd God feeds us (through the strength and goodness of all who run food pantries, or work in grocery stores, or drive delivery trucks). God carries us, yea, even though we walk through the dark valley of death.
Take comfort, people. It turns out, Isaiah’s words were written for us.
How do these words touch you differently this Advent?
Kathy McGovern ©2020