The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall blossom and rejoice with joy and singing . . .Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert . . . and the people of the LORD shall return with singing.Isaiah 35:1-10
The hope of Advent, the hope of Immanuel—translated as “God with us”—affirms that we are looking forward not just to individual transformation, but also to the kindness, compassion, and generosity of God being fulfilled for all the peoples of the world. God’s kindness and compassion is affirmed in “Peace on Earth; Goodwill to all”—the hope and promise of a world where we transcend the “us” / “them” mindset of the egoic operating system. God’s generosity is affirmed by our Earth-home abundantly blessing all of us as the prophet Isaiah foretold in the passage above.
This God-with-us/Immanuel hope and faith energizes and sustains us as we seek to transform our corner of the world. Each of us finds different ways to participate in that transformation. Our musical guest this Sunday, Josh Blaine, is part of a growing worldwide movement of song leaders who recognize community singing as one way to participate in this transformation, because regardless of one’s singing ability, wholehearted singing with others unites us. “Science tells us there are health benefits to singing; experience tells us that community singing is deeply nourishing in ways that transcend description,” says Josh. This Sunday will not be our classic Christmas carol sing-along; we will have plenty of that the following Sunday and Christmas Eve. We will instead experience the power of community singing in a new way, a way that affirms the promised kindness, compassion, and generosity of God being fulfilled for all. Dan and I experienced the power of Josh’s community singing several weeks ago at a conference. My hope is that this Sunday will act as sort of a “reset” for your Advent if it has been overtaken by the hustle and bustle of the season. I hope we will experience together a sense of the unity and abundance that is possible—that is promised—by Immanuel, God with us. I can’t wait to see you Sunday and share this with you! With so much love, Linda