Monday, December 05, 2016

For the Mouth of the Lord Has Spoken

By Melanie Rigney

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

The Lord our God comes with power. (Isaiah 40:10ab)

Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? 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?  And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”  (Matthew 18:12-14)

Lord, I am overcome by Your glory. May I have the faith to see and hear it.

You can keep your “Hallelujah Chorus,” Georg Handel.

Really. I mean, it’s lovely and all, and tons of fun to sing. (Whether you sing it poorly or well, and for most of the past twenty-five years or so, I’ve been in the former at annual Advent Messiah sing-alongs.) The words and music are stirring and the reverberation on that “Jah” is amazing. Forget the Ohio State “fan quakes” of a few weeks ago in the Buckeyes’ double-overtime win over Michigan… it doesn’t take many people singing the close of the chorus to get a “God quake” going.

But for me… the Messiah is all about “And the Glory of the Lord,” taken from today’s first reading from Isaiah 40. It’s a short piece, about three minutes, sung by the chorus. I get the shivers and often tear up when right around 2:40, everyone goes silent for what seems like the longest second in the world between the final “For the mouth of the Lord” and “has spoken it.”

That’s what Advent’s really about, right? That silence. That pause. That stopping what we’re doing, no matter how good, how philanthropic, how charitable… and listening to what the Lord has spoken. Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets carried the message beautifully. But in sending His only begotten son in human form, God gifted us not only with the words He desired us to hear but also with a model for how to live them: with humility. With obedience. With love.

Listen during your prayer time. If it doesn’t seem the Lord is speaking, listen some more.

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