category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 8

Sunday,  December 6

Isaiah 40:1–11; 2 Peter 3:8–15a; Mark 1:1–8

Shortly after graduating from college, my best friend and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a four–day adventure led by a mutual friend who lived in Seattle. She knew the area well and from the moment she picked us up, we were busy exploring. The third day of our adventure began with a hike around Olympic National Park and ended with pitching a tent in complete darkness on Ruby Beach. As we assembled our tent in an utterly unfamiliar place, nothing in the distance was visible.

While I trusted our friend and guide, I remember the uncertainty I felt as I settled into my sleeping bag. I remember thinking, “Where are we? What have we gotten ourselves into? How will the morning sun greet us?” I remember hearing sounds that night and wondering what else might be sharing our space.

Wilderness can be a scary place, even when it is part of a planned adventure. My wilderness was short lived because as the sun rose, my uncertainties were overcome by the sheer beauty of God’s creation. In today’s text the prophet Isaiah is speaking words of comfort and hope to a people whose wilderness story lasted far longer than my dark night of camping.

Wilderness cannot be escaped. It takes on many forms. It lasts different lengths of time. Sometimes it is traveled with a large group of people. Sometimes it is traveled alone.

This Advent season, while not literally living with recent memories of wandering in a desert away from our homeland, we find ourselves in a season of wilderness. We find ourselves missing opportunities to worship in sanctuaries full of people we love and singing songs that prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ–child. We find ourselves disconnected from the traditions we hold dear. We find ourselves asking when will this end.

Today as we read these words from the prophet Isaiah, we hear words that were intended to ease anxiety and bring peace through promises of restoration and redemption. Israel was in need of comfort and the reminder that God was with them.

This year, more than ever, we, too, need that reminder. In Isaiah 40 the comfort comes in the form of a promised Messiah. For us the promise is even greater because we know that the Messiah has come. We know God’s promise has been fulfilled.

So this year, let us recognize and even give thanks for a life that, though riddled with times of wilderness, is also transformed by God’s spirit. A journey that, while sometimes rough, is traveled with a God who has promised to make a way for us. And let us realize, like the Israelites, that God has been with us all along, working in our lives, preparing us for what is to come.

Leigh Reynolds
School of Divinity Student

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