ADVENT 2022: A SEASON OF REMEMBRANCE AND RESTORATION – 12/11/2022
December 9, 2022
A Holy Highway
(Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins is Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church)
Isaiah 35:1-10 (NRSVUE)
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and shouting.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be opened;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp;
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
In The 1619 Project Kevin M. Kruse writes that the massive road building project that is the interstate highway system “steered along routes that ran right through the neighborhoods of racial minorities.” He tells us that community leaders decried the practice of “white men’s roads through Black men’s bedrooms.” We see this reflected in the routes that highways 880, 580, and 980 take through Oakland.
In today’s text the prophet Isaiah describes a different sort of road building project. He envisions a road that represents renewal rather that destruction, a road through the desert that will bring the weary exiles home rather than force them to live in isolation.
He writes, A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way…no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there…everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Not all roads are equal. Not every road-building project is praiseworthy. Yet, today’s scripture invites us to consider the Divine road-building project that is Advent. The story of the season is that of the God of Heaven building a road to earth, a road that leads we weary travelers in ways of justice and peace, a road that brings us home, a road on which the street lights shine with the light of everlasting joy.