- 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,
Chi Rho Press
December 5, 1999
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
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
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
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
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