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Worship: December 5, 2020
"The Road Home"
Our frequent trips between our home and Napa are nearly 200 miles. It involves seven numbered highways (CA41, CA49, CA140, CA99, CA4, I-5. and CA12) with hills, curves, two lane roads, multi-lain highways, and perhaps more work zones then we would want to count. It seems that these roads are never finished! Geometry taught me that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So, I’ve pondered in the middle of these trips what a straight-line road between the two points of Oakhurst and Napa might be like. Hills are flattened. Valleys filled in. Of course, no potholes and no curves. It would be a direct “crows fly” route. A project, I imagine, well beyond a Cal-Trans budget and resources. Yet our text for this week suggests such a highway. Captives are rescued from Babylon on God’s miracle road bringing them back to Jerusalem. Our scripture for this Sabbath is found in the first eleven verses of Isaiah 40. Take some time to read it. These words will be familiar. They figure prominently in portions of Handle’s Messiah. Let’s consider ways this text provides some encouragement for today’s pandemic world.
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Your God says, “Comfort, comfort my people. Speak kindly to the people of Jerusalem and tell them that their time of service is finished, that they have paid for their sins, that the Lord has punished Jerusalem twice for every sin they did.” This is the voice of one who calls out: “Prepare in the desert the way for the Lord. Make a straight road in the dry lands for our God. Every valley should be raised up, and every mountain and hill should be made flat. The rough ground should be made level, and the rugged ground should be made smooth. Then the glory of the Lord will be shown, and all people together will see it. The Lord himself said these things.” A voice says, “Cry out!” Then I said, “What shall I cry out?” "Say all people are like the grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass dies and the flowers fall when the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are like grass. The grass dies and the flowers fall, but the word of our God will live forever.” Jerusalem, you have good news to tell. Go up on a high mountain. Jerusalem, you have good news to tell. Shout out loud the good news. Shout it out and don’t be afraid. Say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God.” Look, the Lord God is coming with power to rule all the people. Look, he will bring reward for his people; he will have their payment with him. He takes care of his people like a shepherd. He gathers them like lambs in his arms and carries them close to him. He gently leads the mothers of the lambs.