Comfort, give comfort to my people. Is 40:1
Prophets are fascinating people. Like all good leaders they warn us about dangerous paths we might be taking or reprove us when we fail to live up to our values, but they can also be incredibly gentle and consoling. The 40th chapter of Isaiah is like this.
The Jewish nation is in exile. Many have forgotten who they are and to whom they belong. Others are finding ways to compromise with their captors as a way of staying alive, but are neglecting their religious obligations. Isaiah knows all this and decides that honey works much better than vinegar when people are lost and in pain. Like the Samaritan who stops to help the fellow left for dead by robbers, he reminds his listeners that soon they will be home, among their friends and families and will be free to worship in Jerusalem. Don't worry, he seems to be saying, God is near and, "Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."
Advent's scriptures are often like spiritual comfort food for me. Just as a big bowl of coffee ice cream can transport me back to childhood vacations with my family in Westport, Ma, Advent fills me with warmth and hope. As life was once simple and rich, so it will be again. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord's birth, we are reminded that Christmas is not about the gifts we give and receive, but the incredible promise of God not to leave us orphans nor abandon us when we are in exile.
Today, comfort someone who seems lost.