Before Jesus’ birth, the angels appeared to some shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem. They came announcing good news of peace and renewal – tidings of comfort and joy.
We asked 25 people to prepare a meditation for us to read and listen to every day through Advent. We are delighted to share their work with you.
God bless you as you read, listen and pray.
Day 8: Isaiah 40: 1 – 5
Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;[a]
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Some of you might know that I have a real love of being in the mountains. Apart from their obvious beauty and grandeur there is also something really comforting about being in a space that is solid and unchanging. Of course one of the downsides of this, is that if you want to get from A to B through the mountains, that can be tricky! Have you ever driven on those roads in the Alps with tunnels cutting through rock, and routes that take you on hairpin bends winding up and over mountain passes? Those engineers are dealing with the reality that these mountain are not going anywhere and so they have to find another way- and it’s not always easy!
And so, the passage from Isaiah with talk of the mountains and the hills being made low is quite surprising! How can these towering hulks of rock and stone be levelled? How can these huge barriers become inconsequential? What sort of engineering project can simply remove mountains and raise up valleys rather than having to find alternative and complicated solutions?
The mission that Isaiah is talking about is a divine road building project- he describes it as the ‘highway for God’. This is the metaphorical road that is going to get God to His people, no matter what. God will move mountains, will move heaven and earth, and even move from heaven to earth, to bring His comfort and His hope to His people. This Advent, God in the person of Jesus Christ is clearing the way, removing the barriers and obstacles, and coming to meet you and me. Even those barriers that feel permanent and unmoving in our lives won’t stop God from reaching out for us – His mission is to get to you and there is nothing that will stand in His way!