Today is Monday the 7 December, the feast of St Ambrose, in the second week of Advent.
Sisterbrother sing, ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’.
Today’s reading is from the Prophet Isaiah.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
In the second week of Advent, the imagery for this week is preparation. The Gospel reading gives us John calling out for us to, ‘Prepare the Way of the Lord’. Isaiah also readies his people for the journey he calls ‘The Holy Way’. In a time of continuing uncertainty how do I approach this part of the journey? What preparation may be necessary? Am I ready?
Isaiah paints a wonderful picture full of hope and healing. A restoration of health and an abundance of good things, there for God’s people. For those who have been redeemed through the generosity of our God who drives out fear and weakness. How much do I need that restoration in my own spirit?
As I listen to the second half of the reading again may I be uplifted by the vision Isaiah sets before me. May I hear the birds sing and feel the hope and peace that replaces anxiety as water and new life appear. Let me be reminded of God's ability to restore and renew what is needed within me.
‘The redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return’. Let me carry this vision with me through the day. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me where I am meant to go.