Second Advent Devotion 2017
2nd Advent Devotion
Methodist Liaison office in Jerusalem
10 December 2017
Song: sing verses 1 and 3 of “Light a Candle in a Darkened Place” by Care Stainsby (www.methodist-liaison.org under resources)
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended.”
-Isaiah 40: 1-2
Reading the words of Isaiah 40 is a joyous experience in itself. It is hard to read these words without breaking into Handel’s Messiah and hearing all the beautiful music that they have inspired. “Comfort ye my people,” “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low,” “He will feed his flock like a shepherd.” These words have touched our hearts and minds over and over again, year after year, as we celebrate the Christmas season.
But when I first began preparing this devotion, the words that stood out for me were from the assigned hymn, “Light a candle in a darkened place.” My immediate thoughts were of darkness, of prophets speaking difficult words to ears that were not open to hearing. Surely our present time is a time of darkness: natural disasters, lack of wisdom in our leaders, rumors of war, the list seems to increase daily. But the hymn says, “words of joy and hope they bring.” I felt a tug of war between the darkness and the joy, between words of despair and words of hope.
Prophets are needed today in our world, in our churches. They awaken us to realities that we would rather stay hidden. They challenge our comfort and complacency and, as Jesus did, turn our worlds upside down. And because of that, they are usually rejected and marginalized. Their words are difficult to hear, and yet…
Read Isaiah 40 again. What I see are words of tenderness, comfort, gentleness, of not being afraid. Words of love and hope. And I love the opening words, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare has ended.” Every day, as I walk the streets of East Jerusalem, I feel the noose tightening. I hear stories from locals of how difficult life is becoming, of their despair as they have less and less cause for hope. And what do I have to offer? What candle can I light in this dark time and place?
But then I read Psalm 85 and I know that there’s more than what I feel and see. God promises to speak peace to God’s people. God promises that “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” Again, I ask myself, what candle am I lighting that points the way to God’s promised reality?
What is your candle? How are you a light in the darkness?
Light the 2nd candle
Let us pray, Lord, our realities are difficult. Despair and lack of hope wherever we look. But you brought a Light into the darkness and have promised that the darkness will not overcome it. For this we give you thanks and praise. Amen.
Picture credit: “The light shines in the darkness.” Taken by Tina Whitehead, Bethlehem, Fall 2016
Devotion Written by: Tina Whitehead, a member of the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference, Individual Volunteer serving in Palestine and Israel for 11 years.
Advent Devotions provided by the Methodist Liaison office in Jerusalem, through the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, The Methodist Church of Great Britain, and the World Methodist Council of Churches.