The Announcement

Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:1-11 (NIV)

Whenever someone of great importance arrives for an appearance or a speech, someone usually makes an announcement over the public address system as an introduction of the individual. When the Queen of England is arriving, there is either a trumpet fanfare or verbal announcement or both. Prior to the entrance of the President of the United States to a joint session of Congress, the Sergeant of Arms of the House says, “Ms. (Mr.) Speaker, the president of the United States.” Similar customs are followed in many nations throughout the world. If you have ever had the privilege of witnessing such an event, you know how everything seems to come to a halt when such an announcement is made.

The words we find in Isaiah this day has a similar, life-halting impact. We read here of God choosing to comfort the people and making an important announcement. God has chosen a heralder to prepare the people for the arrival of the Lord. While people and their works fade away, the promise of God endures forever. The announcement tells the people that the coming Lord will rule with power and gently lead the people. We understand this in light of the arrival of John, the baptizer, who introduces Jesus at the start of Jesus’s ministry.

For us who live on the other side of the fulfillment of what we see in Isaiah’s words, we know of the power and gentleness of the Lord. We see these things in the Gospel story of Jesus’s life and ministry. Yet this announcement still has purpose today. Upon hearing of the Lord’s arrival, we make the decision whether to welcome him into our lives or not. Do we allow the Lord to gently lead us? Are we welcoming the power of the Lord to enter our lives? If we have welcomed the Lord after hearing the announcement, then we become the heralders of the Lord for others.

The announcement has been made. God’s promise has been fulfilled. The Lord has arrived. Have you welcomed the Lord into your life? Are you now the one sharing the announcement of the Lord’s arrival with others?

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