Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Comfort Ye!

I am doing my annual listen to Handel’s Messiah.  I was struck this year by the first words sung in the opening tenor recitative: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.”  Those are the opening words of Isaiah 40.  These words appear to have been spoken to people who were not in comfortable circumstances.  They viewed themselves as faithful followers of God, who were about to be handed over to a culture, society and political system that despised God.  Why should anyone in circumstances like this find comfort?

The end of Isaiah 40 says it:
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Those words resonate within me at the end of this year.  A week before Thanksgiving I was informed that my current employment might end within a year.  On the very day this was announced to me, the daily devotional I receive via email was titled “A Better Future.”  The text was Isaiah 43.15-21, which includes these words: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (18-19).  I am hopeful.  I am trying to live in excited anticipation to see the way in the wilderness and rivers (notice it is plural) in the desert.

We got out to Minneapolis four times this year to visit with Kevin and Marissa.  It is beautiful to see their love and friendship grow.  We relax when we visit, go for long walks, ride our bikes around the city, go the the State Fair.

Our trip out there in May included a stay at Fish Creek in Door County, Wisconsin where we were able to ride our bikes all over the county.  In wooded areas we saw thousands of Lady Slipper orchids in bloom.

Jayne lives four miles from us, ½ mile from where I was hit from behind while riding my bicycle November 2013.  We enjoy weekly visits with her.  I went deer hunting with her mid-November.  She got a deer.  We processed it ourselves.  She did the best job I’ve ever seen trimming all the meat of fat, sinew and sheath.  It made for very tasty venison.

Beth helps out at church in various ways, behind the scenes work that makes the seen work go well.  She visits and assists her mom almost weekly.  She has ridden her bicycle nearly 2000 miles this year.  She likes her neighborhood, church and community.

By the end of December I will have ridden my bike 4500 miles this year; my first bike ride after my November 2013 accident was March 10, and it felt great to be able to ride.  Mid-summer we got a nice quality tandem bicycle.  Until it got too cool in October, we’d ride that together 25-45 miles on a Saturday or Sunday, exploring places we’d never ridden before.

I enjoyed deer hunting this year.  I did a fair amount of fishing for bluegills on Muskrat Lake, grew a small garden, picked wild black raspberries.  I try to keep connected to the natural world.

Isaiah says that the new thing has already sprung forth: the way in the wilderness and the rivers in the desert.  He asks us “do you not perceive it?”  I need those kind of eyes, like the shepherds at Jesus’ birth who saw the multitude of angels.

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