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The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.’
— Isaiah 35:1 – 4

Isaiah 35 is a powerful poetic word of comfort for the mourning Israelite exiles, who have lost their temple, their land, and even their sovereignty. Their suffering is manifested in “weak hands” (verse 3), “feeble knees” (verse 3), a “fearful heart” (verse 4), obscured vision (verse 5), hindered hearing (verse 5), broken bodies (verse 6), and silent tongues (verse 6). The “body” constructed in Isaiah 35 has been utterly overwhelmed by despair and weariness. Their capacities needed to move through their daily lives have been diminished. The exiles feel God’s sorrow in their very bodies.

Does the possibility of hope even exist in the face of such overwhelming circumstances? Is the experience of joy ever again a possibility?

As we seek wisdom in the stories of the Hebrew prophets, we come to realize that through faith in Christ Israel's story has become central to our story as followers of Jesus. At this moment in our yearly re-telling of our story of faith, we rejoice in knowing that we are a thread in an epic narrative that is driven by promise, obedience, judgment, and redemption.

This Sunday, December 17, 2017, we pause and take this opportunity in the holy journey through Advent to rejoice as we spot a glimmer of light on the distant horizon. Rev. Michael Riggs shares a message of joy entitled EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSES, drawing inspiration from the ancient wisdom of Isaiah 35 in which the prophet recounts how the desert shall rejoice and blossom once more as we await the arrival of the Promised One.

Please wear something pink as we rejoice and rediscover the ancient Advent tradition of watching our Christmas joy blossom as a rose among us!