The Advent/Christmas season is always a tumultuous time. There are seemingly never ending demands on our time. There is the grief that comes as we remember those who are no longer with us. There is the stress of buying the perfect gift and the right price on the right credit card for maximum point accumulation. There is the December cold and flu season staring down each of us. And there is, of course, the slow and steady plummet toward the darkest night on December 21st. What was once a season of hope and joy, has, thanks to our 21st century appetites for consumption, become a season of anxiety and stress.
The readings for the season of Advent could be seen as adding to the problem, and God knows I’ve been critical of them over the years, but this particular year, on this particular day, I’m thankful for the inclusion of Isaiah 40 in the Propers for Advent 2, Year B. Those opening words of God to the prophet, his command that Isaiah be about the work of comfort is working to ease my discomfort this morning. I can sense God inviting me into his presence and the peace which surpasses all understanding. Even the voice crying out in the wilderness is not a voice of judgement to me this year, but a voice of calm. “Prepare the way of the Lord” in the context of Isaiah 40 is preparation to be enveloped in God’s loving embrace, an invitation to be loved by God whose very nature is love.
I’m thankful for this invitation this year. And I’m thankful to my friend, John Talbert, for his beautiful take on one of only two Advent hymns I consider worth singing, “Comfort, comfort ye my people.”