Isaiah 35:1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
   like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
   They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.
     He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense.
     He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
     then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
     the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water;
     the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way;
     the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people;
     no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
     No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
     they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

  From Rev. Scott Thayer, Bethany Memorial Church, Bethany:

One of the enduring themes of the Bible is “Exile and Return.”  Not only does this theme wind its way through the Bible, it winds its way through our lives as well.  Who of us has not experienced exile:  a dry, disorienting time – a time when God seemed far away?  But then, right in the middle of the dry times, along comes Isaiah, assuring us that what looks like a desert now is really a lush paradise about ready to bloom.  

Sometimes we can’t see the crocus and we can’t hear the song of the redeemed because we feel dry and empty.  But when God comes to us, the wilderness becomes a journey of hope, not one of despair.  Advent reminds us that God is making a way through the desert, even if we can’t see it yet.

O God, you call us to a faith that is deeper than our circumstances.

Remind us that in Christ our dry times do not define us.

Help us to see the crocus; open our ears to the song of the redeemed.