The Scripture Reading this week is Isaiah 40:1-11
The Sermon Title is Promised Hope Conquers Lived Despair
Early Thoughts: What are the words of comfort that we need to hear? What is the lived despair that needs hope to come in and conquer it in 2015?
Have you noticed that there is almost never a shortage of despair? Just like there is always something to worry about, there always seems to be plenty of signs that all is lost.
Maybe a close friend or family member has been "downsized".
Maybe you have had to stop reading news about refugees, or terrorist attacks, or bombing strategies.
Maybe you or someone close to you has had to deal with racism, or sexism, or some other ism.
Maybe it is the crime rates in town lately.
What robs you of hope? What makes you wonder if God is still active? What makes it hard to see the road through the wilderness?
This is the world into which Christ is born. This is the world into which God speaks words of comfort and hope and promise.
These verses from Isaiah were spoken first to captives, exiles, a long way from home. Exiles removed from the place where, they had always been told, God lived, the place where they could meet God. And then the Word comes to them speaking of comfort, of pardon, of return, of home, of Good News. Into the midst of their despair came hope and renewal.
What is the Good News we need to hear? What is the word of hope and comfort that will rebuild the highway? What will defeat the despair we see around the world every day in our news feeds and lead us to the the top of the mountain to shout out good tidings (which shall be for all people, for unto us is born this day...)
Highway building is a lot of work. Maybe there is muskeg and swamp to be dug out, dirt and gravel to be moved around, chasms to be bridged, blockages to be worked around or blown apart, but in the end...
What will start us seeing the roadway where once was only wilderness and mud and rock?