"Comfort, O comfort my people."
I am squeezing in this post just one day before these readings will be shared in worship--not my goal exactly, but I'm still figuring out how to fit blogging in to my days. With the encouragement of my Lectionary Story Bible, I've been sitting with the Isaiah texts for Advent quite a bit. I doubt I'll hear much about Isaiah in worship this month--there's so much narrative to get through this time of year (this week we're meeting John the Baptist, the one Christians believe is the fulfillment of Isaiah's words in this passage). But right now I'm thinking about the situation that prompted Isaiah to write, and what his hopes and fears looked like long before Advent, in this passage, isn't about waiting for the familiar stories of shepherds and wise men, or for the excitement of Christmas day. It's about a hope that hasn't yet been fulfilled but that can still be as powerful and certain as if the end had been written. This suffering isn't all God has in store, Isaiah promises. God will comfort you, God will feed us and hold us like the shepherd cares for the lamb.
I'm just going to assume that you and your family find ways to give back during the holidays. And I'm also going to assume that you are pretty comfortable talking with your children about the merits of sharing and giving. Shoot, I know we have the "sharing" conversation every hour on the hour around here. My challenge this week is that you'll find a way to connect your acts this season with the idea of preparation. We help out where we can because we have a hope, however undefined, that this world isn't always fair and we can live out a better way.
We give small comforts because You bring big comforts. We share what we have because You give us everything. We are getting ready. We show each other how to love, so that we recognize Your love at work in the world.