Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord. Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns.
Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.
This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
A dark night yields to a dark, cold, blustery December morning, snowflakes fluttering in the air. My prayer is filled with heartache, uncertainty, powerlessness, and struggle in giving all to God to shed light in this darkness.
The words of Isaiah are a mainstay of Advent scriptures. Isaiah reminds me that even in this pained moment of humility and sadness, the love of the Lord always stands with me and surrounds me. Today, this assurance of God’s love, constancy and peace restores the hope and grace of my Advent. The love of the Lord will stand, as the song verse noted long ago, bringing me from the nether world and preserving me again as weeping yields to rejoicing and mourning into dancing.
Luke reminds us that none is greater prophet than the Baptist, yet none less likely in visage and presentation. Today, may this unlikely messenger lead me to peace.
—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and hearken for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.
Then cleansed be ev’ry life from sin;
Make straight the way for God within.
And let each heart prepare a home
where such a mighty guest may come.
—traditional Advent hymn
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