Great Plains Daily Devotional for 11/30/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Lewellen UMC
Oshkosh UMC
Great West District
Prairie West Church ELCA/UMC
Great West District
Scottsbluff First UMC
Great West District
Sidney First UMC
Great West District

Today's Lectionary Text

Isaiah 40:1-11 

Comfort, comfort my people!
    says your God.
Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
        and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
    that her penalty has been paid,
    that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!

A voice is crying out:
“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
    Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
Every valley will be raised up,
    and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
    Uneven ground will become level,
    and rough terrain a valley plain.
The Lord’s glory will appear,
    and all humanity will see it together;
    the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”

A voice was saying:
    “Call out!”
And another said,
    “What should I call out?”
All flesh is grass;
    all its loyalty is like the flowers of the field.
The grass dries up
    and the flower withers
    when the Lord’s breath blows on it.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass dries up;
    the flower withers,
    but our God’s word will exist forever.

Go up on a high mountain,
    messenger Zion!
Raise your voice and shout,
    messenger Jerusalem!
Raise it; don’t be afraid;
    say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
Here is the Lord God,
    coming with strength,
    with a triumphant arm,
    bringing his reward with him
    and his payment before him.
Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock;
    he will gather lambs in his arms
    and lift them onto his lap.
    He will gently guide the nursing ewes.

Today's Devotional

Every year I look forward to Advent! I like the opportunity to prepare my soul for the coming of the Christ-child. The services of worship – lighting the candles each Sunday leading us to Christmas Day, so much hope and anticipation! More than anything during this season, it is the richness of the music! “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” “People, Look East,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Savior of the Nations, Come.” I also look forward, nearer to the season of Christmas, for the service of Lessons & Carols, and finally, “Handel’s Messiah.”

It is to Handel’s Messiah that we draw near for our devotion today. This was written by Dr. Joseph E. McCabe in 1978, who served as president emeritus, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In his book “Handel’s Messiah: A Devotional Commentary,” we find these words:
“COMFORT ye – what a good word to the human heart from the heart of God. That first word is the best word. To know that the Creator is also the comforter is to have peace at the center. Behind the cosmos is One who cares. He who knows all is He who loves most. You are known completely. And you are loved eternally. Therefore: ‘Comfort ye.'

“Into the wilderness of our hearts, and into the desert of our despair, someone is coming. Where he comes, and where he is received, there comes also a high calling to make straight in all the deserts of the world a highway for our God. He lays that task upon us. He who comforts us is He who thrusts us into the desert, for kingdom-building. That old language simply means that we who are forgiven are charged to forge a social order to the liking of God.

“Cheap comfort is all around us. The old fakers and soothsayers still abound. They come now in glossy print and popular pulpits. We are to let the sweet fragrance engulf us, even as we read the next chapter, or hear the same sweet sermon next Sunday. They us the comforting assurance that we are really quite respectable, and that the tiger in our hearts is tame.

“He who speaks to us in Advent knows better. He knows the wilderness into which we have wandered, and the wildness of the world we have on our hands. It is precisely there we are to prepare the way of the Lord. Into the desert of this weary world we are thrust to transform and make it blossom and rejoice. That is the call. He lays that task upon us. We avoid it at the peril of missing life’s most important appointment.

“The comfort and the call – these are the two sides of our high faith. ‘Comfort ye.’ This is the first word and the best. If we will receive that word in the depths of our being, we can face anything.”
-Rev. Hollie Tapley
Disaster Response Coordinator

Prayer for Reflection

Holy God, may we during this season of Advent, reclaim those words, “Comfort ye.” May we be people who extend those words to all humans. Amen.


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