Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Worship Meditation - 2nd Sunday

Isaiah 40:1-11 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.

Insight: Anyone similarly blessed to be familiar with the ultimate musical masterpiece, Handel’s Messiah, will recognize the first verse of this passage as the opening words of that great work. “Comfort, comfort ye my people.” These were the hope-filled words of God’s prophet 700 years before the fact. But they were a mere blink to the God Who had inspired them. And though our frail bodies fade like dry field clover, God’s hopeful promises stand. This particular one stood for 7 centuries, 4 of which were a hard, barren time of frustrating silence for Israel. Then, true to His word, Post Tenebras Lux: God forgave the iniquity of His people and restored the fortunes of Jacob. He sent John to pave a highway for the Evangelion of His Son, the Great Shepherd of His sheep, Whose mighty arms stretched forth to gently gather the lambs. In Him is seen the kiss of righteousness and peace.

Questions: How many times in your own life have you known the comfort of God? Do you cherish the gospel as a victory of peace with God? In your own life and that of your friends and loved ones, how have you seen the patience of God leading the lost to repentance? When was the last time you listened to Handel’s Messiah? Isn’t it about time to listen again?

Prayer: Great Father, we praise You for Your comfort and steadfast love toward us, Your people. Grant us, by Your Spirit, more grace to live lives worthy of Your comfort as a testimony of the hope that is ours by Your Son, our Lord, in Whose great name we pray. Amen.

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