Can you remember a time in your life when you had really, really, REALLY good news to share? I can remember racing home to my college dorm the night I got engaged. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents…they were the first call I made. Then ran up and down the halls and told my dorm-mates. Finally I settled down in my room and called my friends from high school, my grandparents, my sister, and my cousins. I spent a few hours sharing my good tidings. I couldn’t help myself!
Today we finish the passage in Isaiah that we began yesterday. In this section, we read of the good tidings of God’s return to redeem Jerusalem:
Isaiah 40 (New Revised Standard Version)
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.
Here we see a sign of what the Messiah will look like. Good news! He comes with might to save his people, and tends to them like a caring shepherd:
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.
We tell this story over and over. Every Advent brings us back to these same good tidings. Why do we keep repeating the same story?
Paul R. Abernathy, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., puts it like this:
“We do not recount the record of our redemption simply to recall ancient biblical texts. No. We retell the story so that it takes deeper root in us. We retell the story so that we become the story, the church seasons becoming active verbs in our lives.
We retell the story so that we always ‘advent,’ being alert to the coming of Jesus to us.
We retell the story so that we always ‘christmas,’ being animated by the birth of Jesus in us.
We retell the story so that we always ‘epiphany,’ being awake to the revelation of Jesus in us for the world.
We retell the story so that we always ‘lent,’ being aligned to the death of Jesus for us in our dying to sin.
We retell the story so that we always ‘easter,’ being alive to the resurrection of Jesus for us and in us.
We retell the story so that we always ‘pentecost,’ being afire with the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Advent, then, is more than a mere revival of a repetitious cycle. Advent signals the renewal of a spiritual journey that wends its way to the very gate of glory of heavenly Jerusalem, the eternal city of God.”
(“When Will It End?” The African American Pulpit 1 [Fall 1998], 6.)
May you ‘advent’ and be alert to God-With-Us in new ways this year. Go and shout the good tidings of Christ’s birth from your own mountaintop! And may the story take deep root in you until you BECOME the story.
Go, and tell.