The Second Sunday of Advent
The opening words of Isaiah 40:1-11 announce good news about God, and set the tone for this second week of Advent. Comfort, tenderness, forgiveness and judgement, God's omnipotence, God's love, and what it means to hope in God in the midst of disaster and uncertainty. It promises redemption for people who have been exiled for generations; for a people long accustomed to struggle, these are words that say peace is coming, a time to rest from heavy burdens. Peace is the relief of being able to put down the 50 pound load after carrying it until your knees buckle, be that load physical, mental, or emotional.
Last week, we heard the lament of the people of God, wondering why God would not deliver them from their oppressors, and we heard the psalmist tell us to wait for God's answer. This week in Isaiah, the conversation shifts stream. Last week, the people mourned for their lost homes, the temple was destroyed, and they were in exile. Tangible links to their God had vanished. This week, Isaiah reshapes the conversation around God's own never-failing words, showing the peace and comfort to be gained not by the things of God - the temple, the monarchical line of David, the broken covenant of Abraham - but by the promos of the words of God. "Comfort, o comfort my people," is the longed for consoling speech, the pastoral response to the suffering of the people, but Isaiah does not stop there.
Comfort, Prepare, Reassurance, and Herald: "Behold your God!"
God is coming: prepare the way.