Advent Door 10: The One Who Carries Us

Title and artist unknown. Please notify me with the information so I can provide the proper credit.

The Advent Door Reading Plan
Day 10 Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

Scripture Summary:
God provides a word of comfort and the promise of redemption to those who cry out for God’s help.

Writing to a people in exile, this author promises a pathway that will lead to redemption and return. The transformation of creation that he describes with such vivid imagery will envelop the people as well: within the community, within the individual, the interior landscape will change utterly, and through it will appear a road for the God who will come to redeem and restore. – Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door

God understands our journey is full of frailty- the frailty of our bodies and our faith. Our bodies blossom and wither. Our faithfulness flowers and fades. We want to stay the course, true and constant, but often fail. We find ourselves bent low beneath the burden of guilt and the consequences of our choices. We wonder if we ever had any faith to begin with.

God’s response is “Comfort, O comfort my people.” (Isaiah 40:1) The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) God will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick. (Matthew 12:20)

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you,
Everything is fleeting, God alone is unchanging.
Patience will obtain everything.
The one who possesses God, wants for nothing.
God alone suffices.
-Teresa of Avila

Over and over again in the scriptures, the compassion and mercy of God are compared to the bravery and sacrifice of a good shepherd. Most of the time, sheep are able to follow the shepherd. But there are times on the journey when the shepherd must carry them. Maybe they’re too young to navigate a dangerous river. Maybe they’re lost or injured. Maybe they’re too ill to make it home on their own.

Isaiah 40:11 (NRSV)
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.

Psalm 28:8-9 (NRSV)
The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever.

Luke 15:3-7 (NIV)
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. ‘I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

What is your need fellow sheep?
What would it be like to allow the Good Shepherd to hold you? to carry you?

The Taste of Death
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
I am held captive by downfall and falsehood
or I am held by Christ
whose outstretched arms free me from fear and captivity

Who holds me? Death or Christ?

Great Love bends low to us
Suffers with us and for us
Tastes death so we might be free

What does death taste like?
Amniotic fluid and stable hay
Breast milk and sawdust
Bread broken before sour wine
Salty tears, bitter fear
Ashes to ashes, mud pie
Blood and water served on a centurion’s spear
Linen, spices or stone?

It’s hard to taste anything when your lips are cracked and bloody
Your tongue swollen and stuck to the roof of your mouth

Word made Flesh
Flesh made Mercy
Embodied Love
Wondrous Love
Sacrificing Savior
Compassionate Christ
Taste and see that the Lord is good

I am held. I need to be held. I will be held.
Hold me, Jesus

For an incredible video of Phil Keaggy singing Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins,
click here

*********
This year’s Advent reflections are inspired by the e-book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas [Kindle Edition] by author and artist Jan Richardson. In the style of a classic Advent calendar, Jan offers twenty five reflections, each with an original piece of art. Consider this your invitation to join me and Jan on this journey to Christmas. – Lisa <><

For more information on the Christian season of Advent, click here

poem © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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