Comfort Is On The Way
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.” Isaiah 40:1-5
Isaiah writes lyrical poetry of comfort, hope, and joy to a people who had experienced death, destruction of their country, and deportation to Babylon. The people were numb, afraid, and without hope. Yet through the words of the prophet they received the good news that there would be an end to their suffering and that comfort and consolation would come from God.
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This is a command to the people to get ready for the coming of the presence of God. There is work to be done: a highway needs to be built – a highway that is level and without pot-holes and ruts. Even in the midst of disaster, darkness, fear and frustration each one has a task of exterior and interior preparation to welcome God.
Who needs to hear this message today?: those experiencing natural disasters?; those suffering from disease?; those living in the midst of war and violence?; those without jobs, health care, or housing? Are we willing to voice our grief, our frustrations, our hopelessness and then receive God’s words of comfort and hope? Are our eyes and ears open to see and hear God at work in our world proclaiming again the prophecy of newness? Not only do we receive comfort from our awesome God, but we also are to provide comfort to others, doing so for the sake of the God of love.
“Comfort, comfort O my people, tell of peace,” thus says our God;
Comfort those whose hearts are shrouded, mourning under sorrow’s load.
Speak unto Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
Tell them that their sins I cover, and their warfare now is over.
Straight shall be what long was crooked, and the rougher places plain!
Let your hearts be true and humble, for Messiah’s holy reign.
For God’s glory evermore shall be known o’er all the world;
And all flesh shall see the token that God’s word is never broken.
Johannes Olearius, trans. Catherine Winkworth
We come seeking your comfort for our hurting places; for hurting communities; for our hurting world. Send your spirit upon us so that we can also give comfort to others through our actions and our presence. Give to us your newness and light. Amen.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.