“COMFORT my people” says your God

Last night we attended an annual community “Messiah” sing along as is our custom. The orchestra and most of the soloist were members of the community. I marvel at their willingness and courage to give public voice to this wonderful and often difficult music.

I was moved once again by the aria “Comfort ye my people…”  I was noting within myself the sheer numbers of people who need solace in our current culture and society when it struck me  – I had it all wrong.  I was thinking of the present primary definition of comfort; which is solace, easing grief or trouble, to console. But at the time of Handel and the King James translation of scripture comfort was not about solace, or ease – to comfort meant to strengthen!  Strengthen wills and hearts, and lives to address brokenness and fear. Strengthen willingness to engage the oppressive powers of the world and seek compassion, generosity and caring for the “least and the lost”.

In that aria last night I heard a prophetic call from biblical times issue forth to us in this beginning of the 21st century telling us we not be complacent and compliant with the forces that seek to dehumanize us and challenge those values we see in Jesus’ teaching, life and death.   We, as the people of God, are to be strengthened and are to strengthen others! We do this not for our ease, and not for our well-being. We strengthen and are strengthened so that we may feed the hungry, welcome the stranger and alien in the land, tend the sick, clothe the naked, care for those on the margins such as  those in prison, and those who are so easily oppressed and denigrated by those in power and with great wealth.  This is God’s agenda that we are invited to continue.

I am to use my voice and use my powers to influence the direction of the political process that deifies political and economic ideology and wishes to destroy rather than build up the “least and the lost” whom scriptures tell us God favors. And it is these we are commissioned by Christ to defend and to serve.

May you be comforted to continue God’s work of recreating the world as God would have it be. Or as another aria tells us “Lift up your voice, lift it up –  be not afraid…”


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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