Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, November 29, Morning
By Bishop Kenneth L. Carder
Hope Amid Exile
Read Isaiah 40:3-5
A voice cries out:
“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.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Exile is a fitting metaphor for our time. Historically, the Babylonian exile threatened the destruction of the Hebrew people. Carried off into a foreign land, the leaders of Judah were separated from their families, their homeland and culture.
Perhaps most tragically, they were away from the Temple, where they met Yahweh, the God who had delivered their ancestors from bondage and established them as a covenant people.
The Covid-19 pandemic has cut us off from routines, separated families, and forced thousands to suffer and die in isolation. A quarter million fellow citizens have died, thrusting countless family members and friends into grief and loneliness.
Political dysfunction and polarization threaten to rip asunder the fabric of our cherished democratic institutions. Racial injustice and strife, economic instability and inequities, and social unrest leave us insecure and afraid.
While in exile, the Hebrew people learned that Yahweh was not confined to the temple at Jerusalem. Rather, God was present in their exile, bearing their pain, redeeming their suffering, forgiving their iniquities, and forging a new future.
Through God’s presence and their care for each other, a passageway would open to a new future. They would be lifted out of their valleys of loneliness and despair. They could reach toward tomorrow with hope and assurance that they were not alone. God would redeem their suffering and weave the exile into the fabric of a new community, a new future. The same God is our hope amid our exile.
O God, grant us an assurance of your presence amid our time of exile; mend our brokenness; forgive our inequities; restore our hope; and empower us as instruments of your peace. In the name of your Son, Emmanuel, God with us. Amen.
Bishop Kenneth L. Carder formerly served as senior pastor at Church Street.