Chaplain, Memorial Hospital (Jasper, IN)
This season of waiting in hope, known as Advent, invites us to listen deeply to the Word of God. Today’s readings from Isaiah and Matthew offer words of comfort but also of challenge.
Above all the clamor of advertising, the seeming endlessness of preparation, gifts, decorating and food to prepare, can I hear this Word of God? Comfort, give comfort to my people. Can I allow myself to enter into God’s time and wait expectantly, let go of my need for perfection, trust this gift of comfort and peace as I prepare for the coming of Christ? How do I wait in hope as the pressure mounts to get it all “right?” Do I believe that God calls me His own child and His Beloved?
If this is not enough challenge look at the Scripture, “build a highway for our God.” Building a highway requires groundwork. Leveling mountains, filling valleys, making rough ways smooth! What mountains need to be leveled in my life. How about pride, the drive to “do it alone,” get it perfect. Then those rough ways to smooth! What needs to change in my way of relating to family, friends and strangers? How can I smooth those rough edges of speech and action. Building a highway for my God sounds like a lot of work!
From both scripture readings for today we can take comfort in the assurance that God is with us as a gentle shepherd who feeds his flock, gathers the lambs in his arms, and leads the ewes with care. This shepherd gets “down and dirty” with his sheep. As I endeavor daily to level those mountains and smooth the rough places in my life, I can call on the gentle shepherd for help. Otherwise I shall fail in this effort to tread with courage this call to “challenge” and “comfort."