Prepare to Listen. (If using, light the first purple Advent candle.) Be still before the Lord who says, Comfort ye my people.
Prayerfully Read Isaiah 40:1-2
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
“Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people,” sings Handel’s tenor, emphasizing the word comfort. After their defeat and exile in Babylon because of their failure to remain faithful to Yahweh, Israel needed comfort. With so much to disturb us today, we too need comfort. Not the comfort of a casual, ‘I’m so sorry for you.’ But a comfort that speaks tenderly to the heart, persuading us of God’s unwavering love. A comfort that, as Brueggemann explains, “is a powerful intervention that creates new possibilities,” because it’s rooted in God’s to resolve forgive and restore. Centuries later Paul described God as “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
It’s not clear in Isaiah who is called to comfort God’s people. Paul made it clear that it is the church, you and I who are to give comfort in a way that is “a powerful intervention that creates new possibilities” because it assures full forgiveness of sin for all. This is the comfort urgently needed in our world, our nation, our churches. With so much that unsettles, shocks, angers us today; with so many condemning and accusatory voices, we urgently need God’s people to stand out and comfort in ways that transform and welcome others to live fully in the new realities of an unconditional welcome from God.
How have you experienced God’s comfort in ways that created new possibilities? Who can you comfort this way today?
God of all Comfort, you comfort in ways that create new possibilities. May I experience your new possibilities today and offer the same comfort to those I meet. Amen.
Live obediently. Comfort others as God has comforted you.
 Brueggemann, W. Isaiah 40-66. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox press, 1998, p. 16.
 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV).
You’re welcome to copy this, but please ask me first.
Advent begins on Sunday, December 3 when the first of daily meditations about Jesus the Messiah will be posted and continue until Christmas day. These meditations are based on the scripture texts George Frederick Handel used for his much-loved choral work, The Messiah, with additional texts from the Revised Common Lectionary. My prayer is that as you read these familiar and not-so familiar texts your understanding of Jesus as Messiah will deepen and your faith in him be affirmed.
We might think that we, who claim to be Christian, know who Messiah is and what he’s like. But I wonder. Do we really know Messiah? Does our concept of Jesus fit the picture of him in the Scriptures? Or have we distorted his image to fit our desires for a Messiah who agrees with our causes and conforms to our ways? Would we follow the Jesus of the Gospels? Those are the haunting questions I invite you to wonder about this Advent as you daily read Scripture about Messiah.
Regardless of what we know or think we know, it’s good for us who claim to be Jesus-followers, to re-examine our views of Jesus in light of Scripture and never more urgent than today conflict in the Middle East and divisiveness among God's people on how to respond. Join me this Advent and prayerfully reflect on some of the biblical passages about Messiah. Come with a desire "to know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly and follow him more nearly day by day." Come with a willingness to be surprised, challenged and transformed.
There are six stages to these devotions which you may follow if you find them helpful.
1. Prepare to listen. Give yourself time to be still and silent, ready to receive God’s Word.
2. Prayerfully read the prescribed passage. The reading should be slow and deliberate, savoring
3. Prayerfully wonder using the provided meditation.
4. Prayerfully reflect using the suggested question as a guide.
5. Prayerfully respond, either using the written prayer or writing your own.
6. Live obediently, a reminder that we’re to be doers and not merely hearers of the word.
All Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise stated.
 The prayer of St. Richard of Chichester.
You’re welcome to copy this introduction and any of the daily devotions, but please ask first.