Advent Devotion, 12/12/22
1 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts,“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. 8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, 10 and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
While our secular Christmas commercials and movies paint a picture of perfect happiness in perfect gifts, perfect décor, and perfect families who gather without strife or argument…Isaiah speaks to the depth of authentic JOY.
Isaiah hits a little closer to home with reality checks. He speaks of suffering. Suffering is pictured in the desert, wilderness, winter seasons without growth, blind eyes, weak hands, and shaky knees. And in the midst of this weary brokenness is this promise.
“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come”
And it is the coming of our God in the form of a babe that transforms the landscapes of our lives. From stories of suffering and waiting in the dark, there comes Jesus who completes our stories. He bursts in and redeems all the broken spaces of our lives. And places us on a highway, “The Way of Holiness” or in the early church it is called The Way.
I love the image of the highway because it speaks to the “now and not yet” of our JOY. We are all redeemed and are being redeemed. We can rejoice in the redemption we have and yet there is more JOY to come. This is how Jesus Christ makes JOY in the midst of suffering possible. He shows up in the middle of it.
JOY is a product of being rescued and redeemed and it sets us on a path home.
Reflect on your past and the history of our church body, what are the stories of redemption you see? Take time to immerse yourself in this JOY and express it through thanksgiving and praise to our Lord. Then spend some time thinking of the broken spaces and imagine the in-breaking of God there, like a stream in the desert. There is more JOY to come!
Jesus, our redeemer, the one who makes our paths straight and turns our mourning into dancing, help us find the depths of unlimited JOY in you. Thank you for all the ways you have entered our lives and transformed our brokenness into rejoicing. Keep bursting into our reality and lead us to everlasting JOY in your presence. Amen.
ADVENT PLAYLIST SONG
“Comfort, Oh Comfort,” Caroline Cobb, “A Seed, A Sunrise: Advent to Christmas Songs”