On Sunday night, our church will have its Lessons and Carols service.
I’ll be reading an Old Testament passage from Isaiah 40.
I read through the version the church emailed, then I turned to The Message to get a different feel for the passage. And there was a line that jumped out at me. (Isaiah 40:6)
A voice says, “Shout!”
I said, “What shall I shout?”
When I heard this last line in my head, I heard it in the broken, depressed, confused inner voice that seems to be in my head of late. The voice of a follower willing to be obedient but struggling to remember what I am supposed to be shouting.
Isaiah goes on to tell me that God’s word stands firm and that I am to shout that promise from the mountaintop. But, this year I remember our mountaintops, our burning mountaintops, and my voice catches.
With my own voice catching and weak, I turn my head side to side to see if I can hear voices shouting from other mountaintops.
I hear Nadia Bolz-Weber:
And here’s what I want you to hear from your preacher tonight – when we stand in this big, big story, with one hand reaching back to the hope of the prophets and one hand reaching forward in expectancy of the promises of the future we can stand firmly in the reality of the present and not have that reality consume us.
This hope that doesn’t disappoint is not a naive hope…it’s a gritty expectancy. A waiting on God. Holding God’s feet to the fire and saying “You promised” You promised to be with us God and we boldly and unapologetically claim that promise as our own. Here we dare to get our hopes up. Here we dare to wait for the Lord whose day is near. We dare to be strong. And we dare to take heart. Because there is more to the story than just what is happening now.
I hear Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song from Hamilton sung in a new way:
I hear a friend who tells me:
I’m waiting for the peace that surpasses understanding.
Here we are in Advent. Waiting. Expecting. Preparing.
Come to class on Sunday. Maybe you are on the mountaintop with a clear voice offering comfort and ways to prepare by making rough ground level and raising up valleys, as Isaiah says. Maybe, like me this year, you are listening for others’ voices of comfort and promise from the mountaintops. Either way, I know for sure that we’ll be better off if we are waiting together.