Vol 8 No. 48 Lift Up Your Voice


Dear Folks,


I wrote a brief devotional for my church’s Advent Reader. It was helpful to me as part of my
preparation, anticipation and entering the season before Christmas.

Isaiah 40:1-11

1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s
hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every
mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places
a plain. 5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for
the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All
people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower
fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass
withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. 9 Get you up to a high
mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald
of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See,
the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his
recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in
his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. (NRSV)

We hear so many voices raised up in this Advent season…So many competing voices vying for our
attention that we are unable to hear any of them. We cannot hear our own voice let alone the voice of
God. Advent is supposed to be a time of anticipation, hope, faith, and a longing for joy. I want to echo
Nehemiah’s words in 8:10b that the “Joy of the Lord is my Strength” but my strength fails and my voice
fades. It is such an irony that Isaiah asks me in verse 9 to “lift up my voice with strength”. Does Isaiah
know what he is asking? Isaiah may not, but God does for in the midst of personal turmoil of any kind,
seasonal or otherwise, this passage begins with the soothing, deeply felt balm of verse 1 “Comfort,
O comfort my people, says your God”. Ah, yes, comfort. I soak up these words like finding water in a
desert, peace in the midst of chaos.

While the passage reminds us of the awesome nature of God and our own finiteness (verse 6), the
passage also gives us two of the most treasured gifts of Christmas. The first gift is this: that amidst the
many voices and insistent obligations that come with life: the Lord brings comfort. He asks us to receive
that comfort for ourselves and for us to be comforters of others. The second gift is the declaration of the
reality of the Advent season and its culmination on Christmas Day; “Here is your God” (verse 9) indeed,
here he is in Jesus, the Christ child.

“Lift up your voice with strength…here is your God”…even now, come Lord, into our lives.



In Christ,