Sunday’s Scripture ~ Isaiah 40:1-11
I’m coming home, I’m coming home.
Tell the world I’m coming home.
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday.
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiving my mistakes.
I’m coming home, I’m coming home. Tell the world I’m coming.
Hauntingly, but persistently, Skylar Grey sings these words. In this video as one chorus ends another begins, almost as if Grey is marching as she sings.
Our Scripture for this week is famously captured in these recitatives of Handel’s Messiah: Comfort Ye, Every Valley Shall Be Extended, And the Glory of the Lord, And Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion, and He Shall Feed His Flock. This Scripture tells the story of a people estranged from their homes, estranged from their true selves, estranged from their God that is coming home. They do not have to find their way through the wilderness unaccompanied. No, the Lord is coming to pave a way through the desert. All the people have to do is walk.
Making our way through the wilderness is a faithful pilgrimage and legacy of God’s people. After their liberation from Egypt God’s people made their way through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. After the conclusion of the exile God’s people made their way through the wilderness back towards Jerusalem, the seat of the Lord, the home of the temple, the place where the Lord would be revealed and revealed in glory.
This passage calls us to prepare the way so that our Lord will make the way so that we will follow the way. Who, other than our God, can lift valleys and make mountains low? Who, other than our God, can level uneven ground and make smooth rough places? God alone does these things, but God in us and through us prepares the way.
Andrew loves woodworking. When he moves into the finishing process he sands and stains, sands and stains, sands and stains. The sanding opens up the pores of the wood to receive the stain…but why then would you sand the stain off!? To open up the stain to receive more of the stain. Together the layers of stain enhance and increase the vibrant color of the wood. Together the layers of stain help any completed project stand the test of time.
We cannot lift a valley, but we can lift a stone. We cannot make a mountain low, but we can clear away gravel. We can plumb what is catawampus and perhaps even use sandpaper with a discerning mind. Engaging in these acts opens us up to release those things that hold us back and receive our Lord who will move us forward. Engaging in these acts will strengthen us as we stand the test of time, secure in the knowledge that our Lord is coming and we are coming home.
As we serve perhaps we will sing along with Grey. Persistently yes – with each chorus representing another step forward along the way. But not hauntingly. Assuredly. Yes, assuredly. We are coming home. And our Lord, like a shepherd, will lead us.
Prayer: “Mountains and valleys will have to be made plain; open new highways, new highways for the Lord. He is now coming closer, so come all and see, and open the doorways as wide as can be.”* Amen.
*”All Earth Is Waiting,” The United Methodist Hymnal 210.