Thursday, December 6, 2012

Songs of the Season: There's a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

In this season of Advent, the words of the prophet Isaiah take center stage, foretelling the birth of Jesus. Isaiah 40 calls out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God"

This call is a warning, perhaps, of how Emmanuel (God-With-Us) will turn our world upside down. Not only did the savior's entrance take everyone by surprise by coming to us as a child, but then, as the child grew to adulthood, he continued to shake up social norms: the outcasts were the ones who God favored, the last shall be first, and the chains of oppression shall be broken.

James Lewis Milligan wrote the hymn "There's a Voice in the Wilderness Crying" at the creation of The United Church of Canada, when the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches united in 1925 (and yes, I do find a bit of humor in the fact that this song, using text about wilderness, was written for the establishment of a church in a country that has lots of wild places).

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
a call from the ways untrod:
prepare in the desert a highway,
a highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
the lofty hills brought low;
make straight all the crooked places,
where the Lord our God may go!
O Zion, give voice to good tidings,
ascend to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
the coming of their King.
The works of pride all perish,
like flowers they shall decay;
the power and pomp of nations
shall pass like a dream away.

This song calls me, in this season of Advent, for the coming of the one is not only radicalizing the world, but also my life, inviting me to enter into a holy time of preparation. God comes into our world and lives in surprising, unexpected ways. Am I ready? Am I ready to experience the power of love, liberation, release, and joy that God offers? 


  1. Thanks so much Pastor K. Was about to delete your blog as a favorite since no posts since Mother's Day then "miraculously" several great posts appear. Happy Advent! Thanks for all that you do.

    1. Thanks! Yes, life got a bit hectic. Trying to work in more writing time. Advent feels like the perfect time to do so!