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Comfort ye my people

by davesandel on December 7th, 2021

Tuesday, December 7, 2021                           (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Comfort ye my people

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

On the Jesuit “Pray As You Go” podcast this morning, the British readers announced today’s music: “Comfort Ye My People” from The Messiah.

Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

Handel’s music carries us away. He adds innumerable syllables to the world “exalted,” and we fly high along with him, above the royal highway at last made straight, where Jesus will walk, then ride on a donkey who walks along quietly carrying him among the palm leaves. Worship the King, the Son of Man come to earth to forgive sins and, by the way, to heal every disease and cast out every spirit.

Here we are, in the already, now, and not yet version of heaven, awakened over and over from our sleeping to call out and bless Jesus, as he comforts us and gives us space to praise God over and over and over again.

A voice says, “Cry out!” I answer, “What shall I cry out?” Go up on the high mountain and sing, herald of glad tidings, sing at the top of your voice: “Here is your God!” Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever.

Just this one time I climbed a mountain alone, Dirtyface Mountain in the Cascades east of Seattle. I left Margaret and my Stebbins relatives at their cabin to take a walk, which turned into a climb and lasted several hours. A neighborhood Huskie-Shepherd-Collie joined me, and when we reached the top, me dressed warmly enough in my lumberjack red flannel shirt, the dog and I howled. He howled, and I shouted, and I sang too, as I recall. All around us beautiful. Blue sky and white clouds and far below, the earth.

Here comes with power the Lord God!

Photographs from a distance make the mountain more intimidating than it was up close. Eventually I realized how nervous my family must be and headed back down. How careless I was with their thoughts and feelings and expectations. They forgave me, eventually.

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?

I was the stray, and I had been found. The dinner reservations were replaced by an evening of party games and pizza.

It is not the will of your heavenly father that one of these little ones be lost.

(Isaiah 40, Psalm 96, Matthew 18)

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