We’ve spent most of this Advent season talking about the Light of the World, and it has blessed us to do so.
Today’s reading speaks of comfort, and as this week progresses, may the Shepherding of God revive our souls.
As Christmas advances, there are so many around us, bereft of comfort and out of touch with God, our Shepherd, ourselves among them when we get too busy, too stressed, too anxious, too overstimulated with all we think Christmas ought to be. Not that such things are restricted to the Advent season! Most of us can do that all year long! We pause today to remember those who are stressed, who are anxious, some almost beyond endurance, and many through no Christmas fault of their own. Life is hard and tribulations are promised. We lift them up to You, beloved Lord. We lift up our souls, whether peaceful or agitated.
There are so many for whom Christmas is just another week, perhaps another difficulty, through which to survive. With all the business and activity of Christmas, we remember them as You remember us, and we ask that we might be given to keep our hearts light, in this season and always. All of our souls, their and ours, always in your care, always watched over, always protected, though storms do rage.
If we cannot speak tenderly to them in person, we speak tenderly of them to You, Lord God, Almighty King. Ours are now the voices crying out, and we do cry out in prayer over them and in praise to the Lord, the Lover of their souls, “Behold your God! He comes with might, and He will feed you like a shepherd, and with His arm He will gather you and gently lead the nursing ewes!” That is my prayer for you, too, and for all of us as my candles are lighted today.
Oh, Merry Christmas, world! In the midst of all affliction, all confusion, all pain, all hard service, even oppression, He will lead us out, He will gently lead us, and where we are most vulnerable, He makes every special provision that we and our young will flourish in His care.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries: “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.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty 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 is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.
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, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, 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, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:1-11)
Woodcarving, Shepherds Crook and Lamb
Carsington Water Park, England
Steph Goodway, by permission