Voices Crying Out

Readings: Ps.72:1-7, 18-19; Isaiah 40:1-11; John 1:19-28

“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! She’s been punished enough and more than enough, and now it’s over and done with.”

Thunder in the desert! “Prepare for God’s Arrival! Make the road straight and smooth, a highway fit for our God. Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks. Then God’s bright glory will shine and everyone will see it. Yes. Just as God has said.” [Is. 40:1-5, The Message]

Isaiah 40
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.(KJV)

Remembering Pearl Harbor…
 
Voices crying out denotes fear, even tragedy. Having spent time in the U.S. Navy and remembering standing watch on my ship looking over at the USS Arizona memorial for hours, I come to this infamous day with sorrowful emotions. It is hard to conceive of all of the voices crying out during the attack on that Sunday morning in 1941. 
Probably most have had the experience of seemingly crying out in some wilderness—nobody paying attention. Well that’s not what Second Isaiah is expressing here. I misunderstood this for years because the phrase is often used to denote the futility of our efforts to be heard.
Instead of fear or futility good things are coming. The Exile is nearly over. The debt is paid. . Listen up! Pay attention! Get ready to see the glory of the LORD! God’s word “is always fulfilled” (TANAKH). Shout it from the roof tops”here is your God!”(v. 9).
[Eugene Peterson uses the phrase “thunder in the desert!” in his interpretation in The Message.  No one around is not hearing THAT.]
When a contingent of Jews approach John the Baptizer in today’s gospel reading to determine who he is, John tells them who by quoting this verse from Isaiah, personalizing it:”I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness–Get ready—your God is coming!” 
 
Dear God, Make us ready. Amen.
Offered by Bill Albritton, teacher, veteran, traveler walking home to Bethlehem.
[Rowhouse, by Colin Fredrickson]

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