Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.” (Baruch 5:1)

The other choice for an Old Testament passage was Malachi 3:1-4 which contains the image of the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap. It references a messenger who will be sent and will purify “the descendants of Levi” who served in priestly roles, with the descendants of Aaron being specially chosen for temple duties of worship. If I am referencing this passage here, you might wonder, why did I not cite all of it? It is this way, beloved reader, the season of Advent celebrates the Messiah coming for all; and the purification would no longer be in human hands, It just not fit the season – a season bringing to mind the beauty of the glory of God. Now gone are sorrow and problems; doesn’t that sound like Advent?

It is interesting as I reflect on this, I have much more anxiety surrounding the preparations for Thanksgiving than I do for Christmas. Maybe it is the realization that the next task at hand will be preparing for Advent. More likely, I think, I feel “judgment” surrounding Thanksgiving preparations than Christmas. And as my theme for this Advent season suggests, this time of year is for light-hardheartedness and joy.

“Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For God will give you evermore the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.” (Verses 2 – 4)

It has been a hard year, beloved reader. A year that followed a hard year. And the year to come has all the makings of another hard year. Surely that Christmastide season should be easy and without strain. Respite from the Divine from has gone before. And promise that we will not be alone in what is to come. Peace & Glory are the gifts and blessings we look forward to.

Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went out from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.” (Verses 5 – 6)

The book of Baruch (which is said to be written by the scribe for Jeremiah) is a book and letter of hope to those caught up in the Babylonian exile. The hope of Jerusalem and those caught up in the exile is that some day they will come home. Come home and be whole. Is not that our hope as well?

“For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God. The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.” (Verses 7 – 9)

Last year going “home” and going out from where were to another place was a luxury that was fraught with concern. Distancing was the rule and close contact not a wise choice. But for good or ill, (yes, I chose my words carefully) this year we are in close contact with only several layers of material between us and sickness. But no longer could we stay away; we longed for the closeness that family and community brings. I remember last year sparseness in stores and on the roadways. This year the hustle and bustle has returned. As I said, for good or for ill. We make choices every day. Could we not, for this season, chose to be joyful and lighthearted. Carefully choosing what do and think, certainly, but choosing to walk along the path of Advent (as is another theme I have lighted on for this season). I hope and pray, beloved reader, if you cannot go home this season that you will make the place you are at a home for yourself and others where there is love, care, compassion, mercy, grace, and peace. Shalom & Selah!