says your God.
Speak 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.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
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.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.
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!”
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He 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.
Advent is a season in our Christian calendar year that calls us to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Messiah. In our preparation, something happens in us. We begin to dust off the stories of the faith that remind us of the importance of Jesus’s birth and the anticipation of his coming again. Some of these stories are full of beauty and some are filled with heartache. We remember that God is not fully done shaping our journey, and during the Advent season we quiet ourselves and ponder the truth of that.
But what is interesting about today’s passage is that it calls us to be a little less introspective as we journey through Advent. In fact, it calls us to do the exact opposite of quiet reflection. “Cry out!” says the Lord to the prophet. Tell the people that the Lord is coming to feed his flock and gather them in his arms, like a mother does with her newborn child.
This news is not for us alone; God will gather his whole flock. The passage reminds us of God’s restorative mission in the world and in our lives.
As we begin our Advent journey this year, let us first be reminded that we are children of God and that Jesus will come to make us new. Let us also remember that this journey is not only for ourselves; instead, we are called to invite others to join us. It is a time that we “cry out” because we have good news to share. Jesus is coming! Prepare your hearts and minds, remember the stories of God’s faithfulness, and bring people along with you on the journey. Jesus is coming to hold us all in his arms.
Prayer: God, give us the courage to cry out to all people and share the good news of your coming. Amen.
Benito Aguilera is a pastor in Holland, Michigan, who will be planting an English-speaking Hispanic church in 2018. Advent devotions from the Reformed Church in America.