“Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God. . . .

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool, . . . [Isaiah 35]

In these frightening days of division, anger, truth and untruth, these are such comforting words!  We can carry them with us and feel hope — which is of course a classic Advent meditation. But the call is surely more than just “relax and wait for God to fix things.” “Be strong!” Isaiah says. What does that mean? Our current days provide plenty for reflection, and, it seems, many opportunities to be brave and strong. The good news is that we are not alone. Being brave also means to follow our God, who will indeed come and save us — but who asks us to be willing and eager partners, able to leap like deer and sing for joy — not simply to wring our hands and sit like lumps waiting for help. God has given us brains and expects us to use them. God has given us hearts and expects us to listen to them. Lies, anger and fear are not helpful attributes in a partner. What God asks us to do is to partner with Him in knowing the love, charity and hope that this season, and our faith, bring us. And to share that love, charity and hope with everyone we meet.

Dear God, please save our country, save that which so many have sacrificed to give to us, help us to restore to our world its faith in you, in goodness and in hope. Help us to walk in your ways and be with us every minute of this Advent season, and every minute of the coming year.