GETTING READY FOR SUNDAY
Weekly Greetings from Rev. Sellars
This Sunday is Advent 2, and we have several treats in store for you in worship. Since this is the week of the Muses Sacred Classical Musical Concert, Jerry Jones will direct the “First Bells” and the “Mighty Men of Music,” in familiar Christmas tunes, and accompanied by our return guest organist, Nicholas Damiani. For the Postlude, both groups will unite in a heartwarming version of “We Three Kings of Orient Are.”
Then, if you’ve ever wondered where your dimes go after “dropping” them in the offering plate, come meet Kathy French, the Director of Church Relations at Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services. Kathy wants to thank us for our continued support of Vera Lloyd, and to receive special Christmas gifts purchased by our Presbyterian Women for residents at their home in Monticello. If you’re looking for the Christmas spirit, you’ll be sure to find it in worship this Sunday!
SCRIPTURE READING FOR DECEMBER 10, 2017
Isaiah 40: 1-11
“Preparing the Way of the Lord”
In 587 B.C., the Babylonian Empire conquered and destroyed Jerusalem. Israel’s leaders, and much of the population, journeyed into exile in Babylon. The Jerusalem prophets made it clear that their defeat was due not to Babylon’s strength, but to God’s well-deserved punishment. Their worship had become routine, they neglected the poor, and rebelled against God’s commandments. For this, and much more, God exiled God’s chosen people to Babylon.
After chapters of punishing rhetoric, Chapter 40 finally declares that Israel’s punishment is concluded. “She has served her term,” and “her penalty is paid” (40:1). Though undeserved, God reached out in mercy, returning double blessings for all the sins Israel had committed.
Chapter 40 begins a new section in the Book of Isaiah. Our scripture lesson is actually the call of “Second Isaiah.” God commissions Isaiah to construct a highway for God’s forgiveness in the wilderness of human sin. The prophet is to lift up every valley, level every mountain, and clear away every obstacle to make God’s blessing accessible to the people. God’s glory will be revealed, and all people shall see and know God’s forgiveness.
Isaiah doesn’t comprehend God’s forgiveness. In verses 6-7, he reminds God that the people do not deserve such comfort, nor will they aspire to God’s commands if given another chance. “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” (40: 7). Yes, God retorts, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (40:8).
Like God’s word to Isaiah, Advent is a season that constructs a road for God’s comfort to travel to all people in exile. Though our depravity makes us like grass that withers, God still travels through our wilderness to restore us to new life. Advent pronounces God’s forgiveness, which stands forever, and constructs a highway for God’s love. As we await the birth of Jesus, we are comforted by God’s word of renewal.
Invite a friend to attend worship with you this Sunday, to hear the music of the season and to experience God’s comfort that is stronger than our sin. Receive God’s word and commit your life to living God’s new kingdom begun in Christ’s birth. Then, Like Isaiah, go into the world and proclaim: “Here is your God!”