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Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Straight shall be what long was crooked,
and the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits God’s holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.
Johannes Olearius’s “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” (tune: Genevan)
trans. Catherine Winkworth
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
These words remind me of one of my favorite pieces of music—Handel’s Messiah—which I first began to appreciate after seeing a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance when I was still in school. The glory of the music lifts me up.
The beginning portions of the first three sections:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, says your God . . .”
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain hill made low; the crooked straight, and the rough places plain . . .”
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed . . .”
Even reading the words, I can hear the music.
These words always reawaken me—and focus me on what really matters, especially when I get distracted with everyday things—what my daughter calls first-world problems. The words are not only comforting but hopeful. I can get back to basics and remember that even with today’s real concerns—war, persecutions, people struggling with disease and disabilities, lack of food and shelter for some—even with all that there is the continuing presence of God. My God is merciful and kind, patient beyond belief with my shortcomings as a half-finished human, and overwhelming with forgiveness.
The Lord is leading me in ways that I do not see, because my brain is too small and my courage is too weak, but I am continually comforted by God’s presence revealed in the people around me.
Lord, help me to be humble, to trust in you and your everlasting mercy. Teach me how to pray for your support each day. Guide me to reach out to those in our community who need my understanding and compassion. Continuously help me to be forgiving and not judging. With this season of lower lights and subdued evenings, show me how to make time for quiet prayer and to be open to your comforting presence. Amen.
Written by Pam Greanias, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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