Prepare to Listen. Light the first two purple candles and pray: Lord, I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me.
Prayerfully Read Isaiah 40:6-11
6 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.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.
9 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, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’
10 See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
Good tidings, used twice in v9, is the same word as gospel, and is used for the first time in Scripture here in Isaiah 40. This is the same word Mark used in his first verse, as we read on the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The word gospel is one we’re so familiar with today that we hardly ever think about its meaning or feel awed when we hear it. We associate the good news with Christ’s death for our sins, period. Hearing it again no longer sends a thrill down our spine. We need Isaiah’s input to deepen our understanding.
In its essential essence, the good tidings is simply this: “Here is your God!” Not over there, but right here where we are. God is here, one of us, with us. The good news, God is here, brings in two things. First, judgment. Not merely in the negative sense of punishment, but in setting the world to rights, restoring goodness, justice, righteousness, beginning where it’s most needed—among the poor, the oppressed, the aliens.
Second, the good news is that God will care for God’s flock, feed them like a shepherd and speak tenderly to them. God can do this because God is here! Handel put these words (v11) to music with a tender and gentle melody in his Messiah. This tenderness is how we can imagine God’s heart speaking to our hearts, persuading us to respond to God’s tender love.
Read v11 again and notice the 4 ways that God cares for his sheep. What does this suggest to you about God’s relationship with yourself?
Respond to Jesus
Tender Loving God, you speak tenderly to your people today, inviting and even persuading us to respond to your love. I respond to you and desire to show your love to those I meet today with your help. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.
Go live obediently in the world and mirror God’s tender love.
I am convinced that reading the Christian Bible is essential for our Christian spiritual nourishment. I speak from experience, over 60 years of experience. I also believe we'll never get bored reading the Bible over and over. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Read with me during Advent and learn to wait for Christ with heart and mind alert for his coming. The readings draw on my background of study and teaching the Bible for over 30 years.