Comfort for the Journey
Advent Nurture Series
November 29 and December 6, 2020
“Comfort, oh comfort my people, says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
“Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God.
Isaiah 40:1-3, Message Bible
For many of us, Advent is ushered in with the words: “Comfort,” “Speak tenderly,” “Prepare a way.” We are guided by the prophet Isaiah’s comforting words to the exiles in Babylon, telling them their captivity is over and encouraging them to prepare for the long journey back to Jerusalem to rebuild their homes, their city, their temple, their nation.
These are words for our time. Comfort in the midst of a pandemic that has separated us and taken the lives of people we love. Speaking tenderly across the deep divides revealed by the recent election. The call to open a way through the wilderness of challenges that face us as individuals, families, a nation, an inter-connected world to build a more just, kind, equal, beloved community.
Our body’s first response to threat and danger is fight, flight, freeze. Or we can flock: find safety by coming together—connecting, comforting, caring for one another. Advent is the season when we prepare our hearts, our world, for Immanuel—God with us, God’s love made flesh in a newborn baby utterly dependent on us for its care and survival. And we never outgrow our need for this kind of comfort and care. Our hearts open to tender words, the comfort of touch, empathy and encouragement more than to criticism, judgment, and punishment.
In these two nurtures, we will be sharing times when the comforting presence of God or the tender care of other people has calmed and quieted us when we have felt lost or overwhelmed, blocked or immobilized, depressed or despairing, and helped us find our way and move forward again. We will share how we have learned to comfort, care for, show compassion to ourselves; how our experiences of being comforted and cared for have helped us to offer comfort and care to others, build community and journey together.
Sharing on November 29: Fredda Sparks, Anthony Leonard, Robert Mann Thompson,
Sharing on December 6: Dwan Reece, Jessica Prentice, John Marsh