The Upper Room Devotion for Wednesday, December 6, 2023, was written by Betty J. Smith of Washington.
1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 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. 5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. 9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
Isaiah 40:1-11 NRSV
In October 1975 I had a near-fatal car accident and suffered a dislocated hip, a wounded knee, broken ribs, and facial lacerations. After multiple surgeries and two weeks in the hospital, I was released to recuperate. When Advent arrived, memories of past Christmases engulfed me: gift-giving, letter-writing, baking, candy-making, pageants, parties, cantatas, caroling, and special worship services. I lay in bed with a tear-stained face and cried out, "Dear God, how will I ever get ready for Christmas?" Then familiar words sprang into my mind, "Let every heart prepare him room."* I realized that the only preparation I truly needed was to prepare my heart to receive Christ anew.
And what blessings I received! My children were close by and helpful. I embraced the help of my sisters in Christ who worked around my home. I discovered ways to minister while I recuperated at home. When I was able to get around on crutches, I attended three events that made my Christmas season feel complete. Let us truly hear and respond to the call to prepare room for Christ in our hearts.
*Isaac Wats, "Joy to the world," 1719
All thanks and praise to you, Holy One, for the precious gift of Jesus Christ. Open our hearts to accept Christ anew and serve him joyfully. Amen.