ISAIAH 40: 3-8


Rev. Ron Robinson

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40: 3-8

Focus Quote: 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 grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.


During this Advent season, where does God call us to be? Where will we find the sustaining spirit not only for these full and yet uncertain days but also for the time ahead beyond these holy weeks? How do we, like Mary, go about re-orienting our lives to nurture the divine spark within us? At this time when the words of peace and great joy and family and warmth are all about us, and are in fact being sold to us, and yet we feel as one in exile, cut off from all those feelings we are supposed, we are told and sold, to feel, how do we find the comfort and hope that will not fade as grass and as the next commercial or made for TV movie will fade?

The wisdom speaking out of the Great Exile by the people of Israel in Babylon, from the words of prophet Isaiah, give us our clues. Go to the edge places, the abandoned places, the forgotten and neglected places, in our lives and in our communities. It is in the wilderness instead. In the desert our way will be found. Stay away from the media and the marketplaces, the great avenues of the American Empire that seek to fill up our attention spans and treat us as objects and impel us to be human doings instead of human beings;  so go instead this week to a place of nature, take a wintry walk or if you are in the southern hemisphere celebrate in summertime coming. Find someone to visit with whom you have meaning to visit for months or years, someone almost forgotten in your life but not yet forgotten for a reason. Meet a person on the fringe of your existing life. Go spend time, and your presence, in the places where people are in pain—visit the sick, the ones in nursing homes, in jails. Begin a spiritual practice of adopting a particular service project and getting to know people there rather than justdropping off items. 

The news of the world is heart-breaking as well as full of hope. Violence rampant in Mumbai and reflected in smaller stories all throughout the pages of our local newspapers, and the economic news sends chills down spines and dread spreads as more and more jobs are lost and the fear of losses affects Main Street as well as Wall Street. Too few people are reflecting on the foundations of our lives and societies upon which we have put our trust. There is a lot of leveling underway, and there are rough places being made plain, and in the midst of it all a lot of crying out. And it is now that in the midst of all this, creeping up on us, moving in our consciousness like the leaven of the parable, the steadfast loving Word cries out to us and for us—here is real peace, real joy, real love, real hope. Not there, but here in the wild places and times and people. 

These are the times when the world was turned upside down. To enter such a Spirit, let us turn our lives upside down as well.  Which for many of us will mean committing to rest, renew, revive.

Contemporary Parable Reflection from the Second Week of Advent,

Universalist National Memorial Church Washington D.C. Devotional 2008, Jennifer Sandberg

Mary made three large loaves and brought them on a board to the ovens so they could bake. Her mother was also there, putting her own loaves in the oven. She and Mary embraced, and chatted for awhile. Upon parting, Mary’s mother reminded her to take time to rest. Mary nodded and slowly walked back to her small house. Agray and white cat sat by the door, fat with her own babies. Mary said to her, “Isn’t it about your time? You look like a large loaf of bread ready to burst! Heeding her mother’s advice Mary ate a piece of cheese and some figs, and lay down on her bed to rest.

Prayers from UNMC Devotional for Second Week of Advent 2008:

Our Mother, Our Father, may we have joy in this season of celebration. Give us eyes that can see You in everything. Help us to enjoy the many blessings we already have. Open our hearts to all that it can hold. May we cherish time with our families and friends.  

Magnificent Creator, you fed the people of Israel on manna long ago, You feed us on bread and fruit of the vine. We eat and drink with much hunger, Anxiously, happily, excitedly we wait for your Great Light to come among us. So, we feast on the season’s bounty and light our candles. We long for the quiet night of Christmas Eve to begin fully eating. Amen.