40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.[b] 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Comfort is such a calming word. It conjures up images of a warm fire, my favorite sweatshirt, and a nice cup of hot coffee. Comfort is a feeling of peacefulness, serenity, and melding into a positive acceptance of a moment or situation. In this passage, the comfort offered to God’s people is His love and forgiveness of our sins. God’s love and forgiveness are provided for anyone who accepts and prepares the way for God to enter their heart. This love will outlast any season or earthly possession.
During this advent season, my goal is to spend more time reflecting on God’s comfort, more time appreciating his forgiveness, and more time preparing the way to have a “Mary and Joseph Christmas this year,” as Clay sings in that song. I’ll admit it’s not easy to focus on these goals with all of the distractions of the commercialization of Christmas. It seems that there’s always a gift to buy, a party to attend, or a way to become immersed in the multitudes of perceived holiday obligations. However, if I can take that step back, that deep breath, and bask in the comfort of God’s love and forgiveness, surely I will remember and see, as verse 5 points out, “…the glory of the Lord.” Verse 11 reminds us that the Lord “tends to his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.” The way that God cares for us and shepherds us will be a reminder to treat others as the Lord intended, to be involved in service to others this season, and to proclaim Him as our God and “remember the Christ in Christmas.”