Isa 40:1-5,9-11; Mk 1:1-8
Today I want to speak of God’s plan to comfort us
-His Advent plan to comfort us by His coming
Today is our last Sunday together
When we are next together for a Sunday the year 2020 will be over,
and few of us will be sad to see it go.
Now, it’s true, there have been many other, worse moments in history.
If we think of the history the PCJ has lived through:
Mgr Jessing had to fight through the Prussian war with Denmark
Members of the PCJ must also have been through
WWI and WWII
We’ve not had starvation and famine, many have.
We’ve been separated from family,
but at least we had telephone and zoom -other generations did not.
This has been a pretty lousy year
A horrible year
I want comfort
I’m pretty sure YOU want comfort
WHO will comfort us?
God does in every generation
HOW does He comfort?
In His coming
-this is a truth so perpetually available that we easily forget it,
His coming makes all things bearable, even joyful.
The presence of a loved one, the present of a friend, makes all the difference:
I might have a shake from Steak and Shake
A burger from Chick-fil-et
And a cookie from the PCJ kitchen
but alone, without a friend -it doesn’t feel like much.
Whereas even the worst ordeal become a lighter with a friend.
WHO is coming?
Your best friend, your greatest friend
And He says that He comes with “comfort”
The message His commands His prophet Isaiah to proclaim to you is “comfort”
Let’s recall the context of that first promise of coming (Isa 40:1-11):
The chosen people were at their lowest point:
They no longer had the land,
They knew their sin had caused The Lord to take it from them,
They were in exile, in Babylon, with no reasonable cause for hope.
The cause of hope they had was not natural, but Divine:
Yes, they had sinned,
but, the promise says,
their time of guilt has been expiated
Yes, they were still in a foreign land,
but, the promise says,
their God is coming,
His Glory will be revealed
The valleys will be filled in,
The mountains laid low
The rugged ground made plain
In a phrase I always feel sums it up:
He is “Coming in POWER”
-He is a God who DOES stuff
I’m going home tomorrow
I’ll have 14 days of quarantine,
BUT I’m going home
And that’s a comforting thought.
I want to make the point to you, however,
Is that it would be a mistake to make my deepest COMFORT be about going home
My real comfort has to be about the presence of God.
He is coming
There is something WE must do:
We must prepare
Isaiah said we must,
“Prepare the way of the Lord”
John the baptist says,
“prepare the way of the Lord”
He will not comfort me if I’m are not ready
He will not comfort me if I’ve not prepared
He CANNOT comfort me if I have not prepared
-within us, we need to be ready for what He WANTS to do in us and for us
If I’ve prepared,
As much as I’ve prepared,
To return to my opening thought about the year 2020:
What does 2021 hold?
We might point to worldly indicators of what it holds, and some of those look good:
At least one of the 3 vaccines could restore normality to society before 2022.
It seems, with that, an end to lockdowns and restrictions,
in society and in the PCJ
-an end will be coming!
But, it’s still not going to be an easy year
So, let’s think of the non-worldly indicator of what 2021 will bring:
Yes, It’s going to be a LONG year again
But, HE could be with me in it
He WANTS to COMFORT me in it
Comfort me by His COMING
NOTHING can make life as bearable as His Presence
As one of our English martyrs said,
“First friend He was,
Best friend He is,
All times will find Him true.”(St Robert Southwall)
He was even true to me through 2020.
I can make it more so in 2021, if I let Him come
“Comfort, comfort my people…
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…
Fear not and cry out
And say to the cities of Judah:
HERE is your God!
He comes with power…His reward with Him…
Like a shepherd He feeds His flock”