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.
Reflection by Janet Derby
We live in a world of superlatives, it seems. Every storm is a stormageddon, every scandal is the worst ever, every sporting event is a “must win”. Amid all this, it is difficult to come up with any not-yet-used words to describe the year 2020. Oxford Languages this year chose not just one word of the year, dozens of terms, including "Black Lives Matter," "coronavirus," "lockdown," "social distancing", and "systemic racism." If it were up to me, I would include the word “doomscrolling”.
However, as Advent begins, I am beginning to find more heartening news in my Twitter feed. We have survived a contentious, yet secure election. As a society, we are beginning to recognize the need for racial reconciliation. Most significantly, a vaccine approval is imminent which allows us to see a future where we can once again gather. So, this passage from Isaiah seems most appropriate. We need desperately to hear God’s words of solace and presence. A long winter of isolation remains ahead of us, but we can take consolation in thinking that one of the words of 2021 might be “comfort”. For we know that God’s light continues to shine in the darkness and will overcome it.
Comforting God, thank you for the prophets who are your voice in the wilderness of our lives. Help us to feel your tender presence in the midst of a dark and scary world. Amen.