“Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them!
Encourage the people of Jerusalem.
Tell them they have suffered long enough and their sins are now forgiven.
I have punished them in full for all their sins.”
A voice cries out, “Prepare in the wilderness a road for the Lord!
Clear the way in the desert for our God!
Fill every valley; level every mountain.
The hills will become a plain, and the rough country will be made smooth.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it.
The Lord himself has promised this.”
A voice cries out, “Proclaim a message!”
“What message shall I proclaim?” I ask.
“Proclaim that all human beings are like grass; they last no longer than wild flowers.
Grass withers and flowers fade when the Lord sends the wind blowing over them.
People are no more enduring than grass.
Yes, grass withers and flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Jerusalem, go up on a high mountain and proclaim the good news!
Call out with a loud voice, Zion; announce the good news!
Speak out and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah that their God is coming!
The Sovereign Lord is coming to rule with power,
bringing with him the people he has rescued.
He will take care of his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs together and carry them in his arms;
he will gently lead their mothers.
Speak out and do not be afraid, for who does not need compassion? An embrace of loving companionship, with words of hope, offers strength to a depressed spirit. Alone and stumbling, comforting friendship can be the light that helps guide someone to a new way of being. Nurturing and respect brings self-worth, and softens mountainous struggles. The dark spaces become less onerous.
Let’s not be quiet! Let’s proclaim God is with us – Immanuel!
Let us pray with ancient voices echoing across our human experience.
at every moment, on every path, in every experience,
We are listening to what you are saying.
You promise peace to us, your own people.
We do not want to go back to our foolish ways.
Call to us! Guide us! Nurture us, O Loving Shepherd.
For, surely, we are ready to experience your saving compassion.
And we, who honour you, see your presence remaining in our being and living.
For with you, love and faithfulness meet.
Justice, honesty, decency and peace will embrace.
We reach up from the earth, to you, Shining One,
and know your righteousness dwells here in our midst.
We are rich in spirit and blessed in living.
May our faith be a witness and our living produce rich harvests.
We are guided by the Way of Jesus,
A light that illuminates all that is before us, in us and around us.
We will go with you in our lives every day
and prepare the path of peace for those who do not know the Way.
May it be so! Amen.
With the Psalmist, who sang our faith with us in Ps 85:1-2. 8-13, adapted by Rev Anne Hewitt