I went to church twice yesterday, and interestingly, Isaiah 40:1-11 was read in both churches: in the morning because it’s in the Lectionary for Advent 2, and in the afternoon, at New City Wien, as part of a series from Isaiah.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries: “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. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (ESV)
People are in different life situations: a lot of people are hurting, looking for comfort and help, yet others are comfortable, not willing to change or repent of deep sin patterns in their lives.
God knows where we are; he loves us where we are, how we are — but he will not leave us there: He comforts the broken and breaks the comfortable, shakes us up so we recognize our need for repentance and salvation.
And that, of course, is where the afternoon’s message by Pastor Brad Hunter came full circle to the morning’s sermon by Fr. Frank Hegedüs at Christ Church Vienna.