Category Archives: Advent

The Path of Hope

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Flowers will bloom in the wastelands…

Isaiah 35:1-10

The Road of Holiness

35 The desert will rejoice,
and flowers will bloom in the wastelands.
The desert will sing and shout for joy;
it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains
and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon.
Everyone will see the Lord’s splendor,
see his greatness and power.

Give strength to hands that are tired
and to knees that tremble with weakness.
Tell everyone who is discouraged,
“Be strong and don’t be afraid!
God is coming to your rescue,
coming to punish your enemies.”

The blind will be able to see,
and the deaf will hear.
The lame will leap and dance,
and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.
Streams of water will flow through the desert;
    the burning sand will become a lake,
and dry land will be filled with springs.
Where jackals used to live,
marsh grass and reeds will grow.

There will be a highway there,
called “The Road of Holiness.”
No sinner will ever travel that road;
no fools will mislead those who follow it.
No lions will be there;
no fierce animals will pass that way.
Those whom the Lord has rescued
will travel home by that road.
10 They will reach Jerusalem with gladness,
singing and shouting for joy.
They will be happy forever,
forever free from sorrow and grief.

What a beautiful passage this is.  Full of hope and promise.

I found myself again this week longing for the strength to hands that are tired and to knees that are weak, and on a bad week, for every other joint screaming and screeching in pain and objection.

At this time of year so many are crying in exhaustion, in despair, in wondering how anything is going to happen.  People are struggling and juggling amongst, despite, or even because of the merriment. People are grieving – for all kinds of things.

And into that comes the Advent message of hope, of God, of his coming to set everything right, of a God of rescue.  The promise of a time when we will have the strength, when flowers will bloom in the wasteland, when wrongs will be righted and we will finally know freedom.

This is our hope.  This is God’s promise.  It is a journey God invites us on with him.

As I wait, as I journey, what am I doing to work with him?  To give strength to those who need it?  To help them carry their burdens? To support those in despair? To plant seeds in wastelands? To right wrongs? To liberate and free? As I long for God to do that in me, I can work with him to bring it about for others.

As I long for God’s hope and promise, what am I doing to enable it to come in my world today.

Come Lord,
bring peace, strength, freedom.
As I long in hope
fulfill your promises
in me
and through me

Amen

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Elizabeth – Unexpected News

Taken from my 2015 book Voices Through Advent and Christmas, available through Moorleys

Based on Luke 1:5-15

Well, Zechariah came home with a right tale today.

Well, I say that.  It would have been if he could have got it out, but for some reason he was having trouble speaking.  Oh men that go to the back of their caves when they’ve got something on their mind.  But what a tale it was.

Apparently (ahem), he’d seen an angel.  He was the Priest on duty, the one chosen to go into the Temple, and there it had happened.

Goodness knows Zechariah and I have not had the easiest life.  Our longing for children has never been satisfied.  We’ve tried everything and it’s just not happened, obviously not meant to be – though I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve such a curse.  And now it’s never going to happen.  I’m way past that now.

Except, that was the message Zechariah had got from this angel.  There will be a child, a boy.

For some reason we are to call him John, though there’s no John’s in the family.  Still if God’s going to do something this amazing, I guess we can let him name the baby too.  Because this is going to be no ordinary baby, he’s got something important to do for God.

I suppose all I can do is let God do what he needs to in and through me and the child I will carry.  Still can’t quite believe it.  Can’t get my head around it.  How will I cope with what God is asking of me?  I guess God only knows.

God of surprises and impossibilities,
may I be open to all you seek to do
in and through me.

May I hear your voice,
your call,
your challenge
and respond with my life. 

 https://youtu.be/4YPr0AD5MhQ

Darkness #Advent

Taken from my 2015 book Voices Through Advent and Christmas, available through Moorleys

Responding to Isaiah 9:2-7 

We stumbled and floundered, we scrabbled and groped our way along.  How could we see, for there was no light?  Not where we were.  Something had happened, something was missing.  Someone had stifled all the light and left us.  Darkness all around.  Real darkness. Total black.

How can I get out of this?  Who will rescue me?  Lead me?  Help me?  Guide me?  Who can bring a light, shine it on my path, that I may see?  I can’t get myself out of here.  Where would I start?

Someone, please, come and save me.

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 Lord,
you know the depth of the darkness,
the place of despair,
where there is no hope and no way out.

Reach into my darkness I pray.

Bring your light,
that I may be able to see a way out,
your way,
guiding me,
onwards,
with you.

Forgive me Lord,
the times that I have made the world a dark place.
When I have snuffed out light,
taken hope,
dimmed the light of your presence;
when I have abused life
and goodness
and justice;
when I have turned my back on you
and on others;
when I have failed to see,
because I wasn’t looking;
when I have ignored your call;
when I have behaved
as if I am the only thing that matters.

 Forgive me Lord,
and bring light,
hope and peace,
to me
and to your world.