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Journey to Bethlehem Day 8

Sunday, December 6 Isaiah 40:1-8

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 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.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

If, like many, you wonder just what is going on with our world today, Isaiah has an answer you might consider. Like all true prophets, he is telling us only what he has been told. Here, God tells him and all who prophesy in his name to comfort his people Israel, for their tribulation is ending and their sins have been atoned. It was a severe penance: “double” for all their sins.

I am no prophet—just an observer, a follower, like you. The longer I follow, the more I see, as I find the quality of my vision is changing. Once, I saw as everyone who is of the world sees. Now, I can see as someone who is not really a part of the world, but who remains nonetheless in it. Not always, but more than then.

As a true prophet of God, Isaiah prophesied into the events of his time. Even so, his prophecy carries meaning for any who can receive meaning and are now in the world, for the word of our God stands forever.

Presently the world suffers in general from two oppressors: a true, deadly pestilence, and the rancor and turmoil that is our lot since Babel, striving as peoples do to be their own god. But the Lord—who can and will level our nonsense and ills—is coming; Advent is our annual reminder.

It reminds of something else: all the ways we conjure that are not his ways are destined to wither and fade. All those ways, friend—yours and mine.

Lord Jesus, as the night grows lengthy, help us to remember that a day is also coming. Help us to shed the ways we developed here to live without you, and to embrace the way you made for us to live with you, forever. Amen.