Prepare the Way: Preparing the Way

Prepare the Way!

I first heard these Isaiah readings as a 15 year old singing the “You-Sing-It” Messiah with my mom, the San Jose Symphonic Choir, and more than 1,500 other singers. I was not yet a churchgoer and still working out what I believed (though I knew that I was definitely Christian), and it was a way of encountering the texts that fixed them pretty strongly in my mind. Eventually, I would become a choir member at my local Episcopal church and hear them that way, but Handel’s Messiah remains the first thought that comes to my mind when I see them in the lectionary.

While I heard them first in participating in the “You-Sing-It” Messiah, I did not learn about them or their history until college (when they came up in Bible study for Intervarsity) and seminary when I took my first formal class on the Old Testament. It was enlightening to actually read the entire Book of Isaiah, to understand the historical aspect of what was going on in Judah when Isaiah was telling them to get it together, and also to learn that there are considered to be at least two (possibly three) different writers of Isaiah, especially as the book covers a span before and after the exile to Babylon. While most of the verses we are looking at are from the second half of the book when Isaiah is telling the exiled ones to come home, we have a few verses from the beginning where Isaiah is telling off Judah for their violence and miscarriages of justice.

It seems fitting this year to be looking at these passages given that we are amid a seemingly endless pandemic and in the aftermath of a contentious election. We need to hear that God is coming, and we need to hear that hope exists. Every devotion is structured the same way with the passage at the top, the reflection in the middle, and a prayer at the end.

Advent blessings to you all!
-Jen McCabe