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Isaiah 40:1-11, God’s People Are Comforted

Monday, December 18

On Going Home

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

God's people have been conquered and exiled. They are weary and worn. They don't know when and if they will ever return to their homes, the land, their families. But God sends a message through Isaiah to be comforted. They will return one day. And on that day, the journey home will be easy. Valleys will be lifted, mountains lowered, and the path will lead them home.

Going home is not always easy. During the holidays, many journey to the places they came from to visit relatives and spend time together. In a Christmas card, this seems like a wonderful, cozy experience. In real life, it's sometimes quite the opposite. If you are worried about spending time with family this season, here are a few thoughts for you.

  • Limit your exposure to the people who push your buttons. I learned some time ago that I need alone time at least once every day. Too much togetherness is just too taxing and I become crabby. There's nothing wrong with excusing yourself for a quick nap (2, 3 hours?). You don't even need to make up some excuse. Simply say, "I need some alone time." Who knows, they might be glad to be rid of you for a few hours, too!
  • Expect less. I found that my stress was highest when I expected people to behave in ways they just never would. Just because I think they should do this or that (or not do this or that) doesn't mean they will (or won't). Have they ever before? Then, why expect it now? If I'm angry because they do just exactly what they always do but I expect better, that's on me. Shift the expectation and you will be much happier. Promise.
  • Breathe. Just breathe. No, seriously. Practice deep breathing, meditation, prayer, maybe even yoga. It really does help.
  • When they push your buttons, just walk away. On a family vacation not long ago, one of my family members started in on a common racist rant. I just walked out of the kitchen and went outside to draw on the sidewalk with chalk. (Art therapy... works wonders!) Within 5 minutes, the whole party had joined me outside. But the shift in location was enough to shift the conversation. No more racist rants, and we had a lovely time enjoying the sunshine.

Enjoy your holidays! Get lots of hugs. Have meaningful conversations. Revel in the moments that don't suck. And breathe.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.