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 for ever. 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.
Isaiah 40: 1-11
From the first words of today’s reading to the last I am drawn in. Isaiah’s words spoken of the Comforter centuries ago draw me closer today. I feel drawn to a presence of a deep, abiding hope. I’m drawn to the One who comes with both might and tenderheartedness. Deep in my spirit I understand how I long for this presence in my life and the reassurance that these verses bring.
This has been an unexpected year of highs and lows for me, of recovery and restoration. It has been a time of holding on and letting go. These words meet me where I am. These words come at just the right time for my heart to hear. This past year I’ve had three surgeries and have needed time to recover. As I intentionally took that time, it was almost as if I could sit back and watch healing happen (especially with my knee surgeries: healing came literally with each step).
The image of a big oak tree comes to mind as I’ve experienced this time of healing. I imagine my physical wounds and recovery time as the outward and visible images ~ the trunk and the branches. The spiritual and emotional healing were the roots, deeply tucked-in and out of sight. It is to my deepest roots that these words from Isaiah come: Comfort, o comfort my people…every valley lifted up….glory of God shall be revealed.
For generations Isaiah’s words have been spoken to daughters and sons just as they speak today to me. These words enter into our hearts and bring deep and holy peace. I’m continually in awe of the scriptures ~ timeless stories and yet so timely meeting me where I am this day. Ageless ~ yet still speaking from generations past to those coming after us.
I give thanks this day, as I feel held and comforted by these holy words. Strong and reassuring words. Hopeful words. Words rooted deep in our faith.
Breath Prayer: “Comfort” “O comfort your people”
Loving Shepherd, enter in and draw us closer to you this day. May your words live on in us. May these words spoken from generation to generation take root in all who are hurting in body or soul. Lead us and protect, we pray in your mercy. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).