Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.
This beautiful reading, full of poetic imagery and symbolism, speaks not only to the state of the world at the time, but also to the restlessness and loneliness of our hearts, as well as what we perceive as the barrenness of our world and its culture of greed and oppression, bigotry and exclusion, war and poverty. But more importantly, this reading is about God’s promise to our Hebrew ancestors and to us today: a promise of abundant life, freedom, joy, healing, redemption, and a road home to Him. This is the Advent message “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” and it is this hope that keeps us from despair, urges us to be compassionate and loving to each other, and encourages us to have faith in the promise and meaning of the Nativity.
God of hope, who brought love into this world, be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world, be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon, be the center and focus of our lives always,
and especially at this Advent time.