2021 Advent Devotions

Isaiah 40:6-11 | December 2, 2021

Behold Your God!
by Jane Terry

Isaiah 40:6-11 (KJV): “O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up be not afraid; Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm and carry them in his bosom and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

Yesterday, Roy’s reflection was based on texts from Isaiah sung by the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah. Today’s reading includes texts for two arias in Part 1 of Messiah, both sung by the alto. (For those of you reading who do not know us, Roy is a tenor and I am an alto in the Chancel Choir, each of us advocating for our respective sections.)

When I hear the soloists during a performance of Messiah, I hear the voices of angels, voices of annunciation. They call out to us, teach us, encourage us, comfort us. Each time we have had the privilege of singing Messiah over the years (for me, beginning in high school!), I have found deeper meaning. Music, among so many other qualities, is contemplative meditation. There is always more to consider, learn and inspire (in the sense of the breath of spirit).

In today’s scripture, we are urged to share Good News with strength and without fear. In the aria ‘O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion,’ Handel leads us and lifts us higher with each phrase, culminating with the message ‘Behold your God!’ As we have learned since childhood that God is Love, then can we not also use our voices to proclaim with strength ‘Behold Love!’?

This Isaiah passage continues to the text of one of the most familiar arias from Messiah, ‘He Shall Feed His Flock.’ Here we are offered the comfort that the Shepherd will gather us to Him and gently lead us.

In our daily lives, in addition to our many gifts and blessings, we also encounter so much noise, so much that would deplete us. During Advent, we have an opportunity to step back from the noise and focus our attention—and intention—on four words: hope, peace, joy and love.

May the beautiful music of the season (with the addition of Lessons and Carols this year) fill you and support you on that journey.

Prayer: Help us to feel your comfort, O Shepherd, and extend that comfort to others. May we lift our voices with strength in our world and say: Behold Your God. Behold Love. May we listen for your Word and allow you to gently lead us into greater hope, peace, joy and love during this season and in our lives to come. Amen.