A Thrilling Voice?

December 16, 1996

Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

John 1:6-7 – There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.

    Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding,
    "Christ is nigh!" it seems to say.

The words of that hymn could be about John the Baptist, or about Isaiah, as we read his words in Advent light. What do the words mean to us?

Are they good news? Do they announce joy to come?

Are they a warning, a threat? Do they announce judgment?

Or do they fall flat? Another Advent, another Christmas. More of the same.

The prophet's songs, and the Baptizer's words, are both gospel and judgment. Comfort for the afflicted, and affliction for the comfortable. The word judges and saves.

One thing is certain: these words do not proclaim more of the same. They ring with news of the new!

This Advent, take a long, hard look at your life. Ask what God's word is bringing to light this year that you need to repent of. Where do you need to be comforted? From what do you need to be rescued?

Don't be afraid of the questions. Be awake to the truth God will show you when you ask them! The hymn goes on:

    Wakened by the solemn warning,
    Let the earthbound soul arise;
    Christ, her sun, all ill dispelling,
    Shines upon the morning skies.

Prayer: Help me to hear your good news this Advent and Christmas. Make your good news new to me, O God. And when I hear the news, make me new, by your Word's power! Amen.

About the author:

Laurence DeWolfe
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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