This weekend is Saturday the 5 and Sunday 6 December, the Second Sunday of Advent.
Maldwyn Davies sings Comfort Ye My People, from Handel’s Messiah.
This weekend's reading from the Prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
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.’
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.
This lovely poem is the first reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, and it radiates joy for Israel at a time when they were in Exile, but also facing a huge march across thousands of miles of unforgiving desert to return home to Jerusalem. You may like to pray through these lines in the light of what you are going through at this moment, in the country where you live. For at this time there is sadness and acute anxiety but also joy; and our task is to remember that God is in charge.
The poet sings that “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed”. What will that mean in your life?
Try to enjoy for a moment, the image of God who “will feed his flock like a shepherd, gather the lambs in his arm”. How do you picture this? What does it say to you today?
Now listen again as the passage is read once more, and hear the joyful acclamation: “here is your God”. What might that look like if it came true today?
Finally, listen to the joyful or sad or anxious thoughts in your heart, and try to put them into words that you can express to God.