Advent Pilgrimage – Week 3

This year I am sharing some Advent Reflections online. The theme is Pilgrimage.

I have to confess that I wrote these a few years ago, and have no idea what the inspiration I used was. My apologies if I have inadvertently plagiarised anyone else’s work, but the setting is definitely mine.

God’s Sacred Highway

Isaiah 35:1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
   the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
   and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
   the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
   the majesty of our God.


Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
   ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
   He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
   He will come and save you.’


Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
   and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
   and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
   and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
   the grass shall become reeds and rushes.


A highway shall be there,
   and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
   but it shall be for God’s people;
   no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
   nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
   but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
   and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
   they shall obtain joy and gladness,
   and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

If you prefer the text version:

You know that feeling when you’ve cleared something or sorted a mess…  When a patch of weeds has been cleared and the ground dug over, or an untidy cupboard has been sorted, anywhere when order has been created when once there was chaos and disorder – that is what God promises in our lives and in the world.

There is very much an emphasis on regeneration and recycling.  Seeing places and what is one persons rubbish becoming transformed into something good and useful.  There is now a whole new economy in environmental goods and services.

The vision of future blessings continues – this time built around a road, ‘God’s sacred highway’.  It leads through a transformed desert, to a place of joy and gladness.  Where once there were stones, scorching sand, and dryness, there will be bubbling springs and pools.  Grass, reeds and papyrus will flourish.  Crocuses will blossom – existence is transformed.

We do not live in a desert, but there are times when we feel that our lives are desert places – dry and unproductive…  We may long to see something blossoming there.

“God is coming to your rescue” – nothing else can save us – God can.  But this is a prophecy of hope.  God is with us now where we are, but things may not yet be changed from a wilderness.  Ground needs to lie fallow – uncultivated and empty – to restore it’s fertility.

Barrenness is hard, but it can be a time of restoration and re-focussing.  And a time is coming – a time of safety and ease, when we can travel home with God, following the path that Jesus has cleared for us to him.  Destruction will be replaced by re-creation.  In thirsty places there will be refreshment; in scary places there will be no predators; there will be growth and beauty, healing and joy, for those who follow God’s path.

God of mercy and love, we long to see your ways.  We pray for your renewing, your restoration, your refreshment in our lives and in our world – for we trust you – when life is easy, and when life is difficult.  Help us always to walk your path.

Amen

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~ by pamjw on December 15, 2022.

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