In the season of Advent, we hear voices crying in the wilderness. The wilderness isn't supposed to have voices. That's what makes it wilderness. There's the howling of wild animals, the songs of a few birds, and the moaning of the wind, but not voices. Our English word wilderness means place of wild things. The Bible's Greek word for wilderness can be more accurately translated as "place of abandonment." The still more ancient Hebrew word for wilderness means literally "somewhere beyond words."
Most of us know that place beyond words, that place beyond what feels like home. Words like layoff, downsizing, inoperable, terminal, divorce, accident, suicide can banish us to the wilderness, those places beyond words. We then walk a road we we can't name in a place that is beyond description. Perhaps this is what Jesus was experiencing as he used words of scripture, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as even He stumbled into the wordless abyss, a place where there is seemingly no answer to the question, "Why?"
There is only that word calling from the distance, "Come home. You are my beloved child. Your place is here." The road home will lead to place of beauty and grace, to people who love you and forgive you, to people who will laugh with you and cry with you. The road will also lead to word and sacrament, prayer and song, and a community of faith. And then it leads us back again into those wilderness places where the voice we need to hear remains and we remember that we are not alone.
Holy God, speak the Word into the silence and emptiness of our lives. Call us, gather us, enlighten us, sanctify us, and direct us by your Spirit, that we might know the home that we have in you, now and always. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
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