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Advent Message

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  • Adam DeBaugh
    I was especially moved by a reading in my home church today and the accompanying reflection written by my pastor, the Rev. Clay Witt, pastor of Holy Redeemer
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 1999
      I was especially moved by a reading in my home church today and the
      accompanying reflection written by my pastor, the Rev. Clay Witt, pastor of
      Holy Redeemer MCC in College Park, Maryland, and a member of Chi Rho Press'
      Board of Directors. I wanted to send this on to you. Have a blessed
      Advent, my friends.

      Grace and peace,

      Adam DeBaugh
      Chi Rho Press

      December 5, 1999

      Advent 2

      Isaiah 40:1-11

      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."

      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

      The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand
      forever. 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. [NRSV]

      Hope in the Faithfulness of God

      Advent began last week with a scriptural mood of longing � a note
      almost of despair from God's people; people who had been waiting for a
      lifetime for God to intervene and set things right. Why are things as they
      are in a broken world? Why do our best efforts seem to count for so little?
      Where is the ancient power of God?

      Where is the peace and good will of God once evident in the birth of a
      child in a manger?

      As we move further into Advent the mood has shifted to the beginnings
      of hope and promise. The prophet Isaiah had been convinced that God had
      turned away because of Israel's failure to live a godly life. In today's
      passage, we learn from overheard heavenly conversations that Israel is to
      be comforted. She has paid her penalty. A smooth highway will be made in
      the desert over which God will lead God's people home.

      Then there is a remarkable dialogue. The prophet asks how he can cry
      out the good news. What's changed? Aren't people still the unreliable,
      inconstant beings they have always been? Won't they fail again, withering
      like grass or fading like a flower?

      But there is a powerful answer. People may be sometimes things, things
      at best of temporary splendor like flowers or grass, but God is constant.
      God's word stands forever. That is the good news to be shouted from the
      mountain tops. God is coming; coming with the power to set things right;
      coming with a gentle touch to care for the people as a shepherd cares for
      the sheep.

      That good news still rings true over the centuries. I know from my own
      experience that I am no less imperfect or inconstant that any other human.
      My failures are legion and sometimes a source of great sadness to me. I
      despair because I often fail in accomplishing tasks God has set before me.
      Like the people of old, I want to remind God that God has made me, that I
      am God's child, and that I am in desperate need of God's help.

      God's Advent message for me, and perhaps for you, this year has been
      one from Psalm 46: ""Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted
      among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." God's message to me is
      that my focus has been in the wrong place. The problem with dwelling on our
      weak human nature, in being anxious rather than still, is that it leads to
      an inappropriate self absorption. It is not all up to me and arrogant of me
      to think otherwise. I will inevitably fall short, but the God whom I love
      will not.

      God's Advent voice rings out "Be still and know that I am God. Let go
      of anxiety. Watch! See what I am doing! See what I will do!"

      Our Advent hope is not in ourselves but in the ancient mystery of the
      faithfulness of God. It is God who will, in God's perfect timing, set
      things right in power and in gentleness.


      Grace and peace,

      R. Adam DeBaugh
      Chi Rho Press
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