December 11

Read Isaiah 35:1-10.

In today’s scripture, the Israelites in exile are promised a return home. It feels as unlikely as a desert turning into a garden, but God is proclaiming an unbroken boulevard of green lights all the way home. It calls to mind the first verse of “O Come O Come Emmanuel:” O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here.*

I remember how lonely I felt in my first college semester. I had moved away to live in a different state on my own, but then a miracle happened. I came back from Thanksgiving break for finals. To self-medicate my homesickness, I brought back a copy of the best Christmas movie in existence: The Muppet Christmas Carol. Not only is it the most faithful film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, it also features some of the best holiday music period. I commandeered the big TV in the common space, put on The Muppet Christmas Carol, and during 90 minutes of nostalgia, a small group sat down with me to sing along and laugh at a beautiful redemption story. We watched together as the Muppets helped resurrect the spirit of a lonely old miser. We were more than students coexisting in a freshman dorm. We felt hopeful about our future as emerging adults. We were finding our community. 

Pray

Creator God, as we wait for you, we ask for a vision of the way things could be. We ask that as you heal our lonely hearts, you would also heal our communities by bringing us together. Show us how to be your people, and teach us the meaning of redemption. Amen. 

Drew Wilmesherr

Interim Ministry Director, UKirk Atlanta

* “O Come O Come, Emmanuel” was originally written in Latin in the 12th century (the tune’s name remains Veni Emmanuel), versified in the 18th century, and translated into English by J. M. Neale in 1851.

Editor’s Note: Check out our Sunday Companion Guide for some more context on this Scripture reading, discussion questions prompted by the reflection, and Advent candle lighting liturgies inspired by this year’s Where We’re From theme. In addition to his recording of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” included above, Drew has also offered a video that features the same audio over slides with the hymn’s lyrics.

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