“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.’ (Isaiah 40:3-5) This Sunday’s first lesson is one of the best-known and probably best-loved passages in Isaiah. The unexpected comfort that comes to Israel in exile is very much akin to the unexpected coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I’m focusing on verses 3-5 for a couple of reasons. First, we see the extent of God’s intervention. God not only announces Israel’s imminent salvation, but also prepares the path of return. I think sometimes that it is quite easy for us to hear a good word from God and then think, “well, what am I supposed to do about that?” But when God calls us, he also prepares the way for our response. Second, in our response there is usually some need for leveling. Sometimes the high places that we would seek to occupy must come low. And sometimes the low places in which we dwell must be elevated. Where are you this Advent season? Do you need a reminder that God is in charge and you don’t have to occupy the place of control? Or do you need a reminder that the Lord desires to lift you up out of grief or even despair? Whatever the case, the Lord is singing his song of comfort to you and is calling you to himself.