Second Sunday of Advent
Comfort, Joy, and Good News
by Cathy Capo Stone
“Comfort, oh comfort my people,” says your God. . . . You’re the preacher of good news. Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem. You’re the preacher of good news. Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid! Tell the cities of Judah, “Look! Your God!” Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power, ready to go into action.– Isaiah 40:1, 9
As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism — a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit — will change you from the inside out.”– Mark 1:7–8
If you have more than one person reflecting together, read the following as a call and response. If there’s only one person, read it three or four times until it comes into your heart.
Voice 1: The gift of comfort and joy is the good news of Christmas.
Voice 2: God sent Jesus to bring comfort and joy to us so we can bring his good news to the world!
We all have times when we need comfort and good news. Times when we need a little more joy! In those times we may wonder, “Where is God?” “What is God doing?”
Think of a time when you needed comfort and good news, a time when joy seemed far off. Where was God? Where were you in relationship to God? Were you close or far away? As the discomfort resolved, did you see God’s hand as the source of your comfort?
Both Scriptures we are reading today speak of God taking “action” to make the road straight and smooth and bringing us to a “good place.” Though our outside circumstances may not always change, Christ is working. He is bringing comfort and joy from the inside out, so we can bring the message of his good news to others who are weary and in need of comfort.
At Cornerstone Family Ministries, children attending our Rosa Valdez Centers learn to talk about their feelings. Children as young as 2 check in each morning and throughout the day to share feelings like comfort and joy, sadness and disappointment. Knowing how they are feeling helps them to ask for help, regulate negative behaviors, and be empathetic, kind, and caring to others who might be having a hard day. These social-emotional aspects of development are as important as any academic lesson. These lessons of empathy are taught in a trauma-informed way that asks, “What happened to you?” instead of, “What’s wrong with you?” This is so important as we offer comfort and joy in the traumatized neighborhoods and communities where we work.
Children also attend weekly chapel where they learn about Jesus and the importance of praying for others. The children learn the five-finger prayer and use their fingers to remind them to pray for their family and friends (thumb), teachers and pastors (pointer finger), community leaders (tall middle finger), those who are sick (ring finger), and themselves (pinky).
Discuss with one another or journal a time when you have received God’s comfort and joy from someone in a meaningful way. Now, discuss how you have received comfort and joy from God. Discuss with one another or journal how that experience moved you to share comfort, joy, and the good news of Christ with others who have crossed your path in need of comfort.
Who do you know who might need comfort, joy, and some good news right now? Write their name(s) on a card or a sticky note and pray for ways God would lead you to share comfort, joy, and good news with them this holiday season.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for your faithfulness in making a way for comfort when life and the injustice of the world weighs heavy, we thank you for the joy that came down on Christmas Day that fills our hearts so we can proclaim the good news to others. Lord, today I pray for my family and friends, for those who have pointed me in the right direction, like teachers and pastors, I pray for local, state, and national leaders, and for those who are sick and sad. I especially pray for _______ , bring them comfort and joy and use me as a vessel of your good news in their life. Amen.
Cathy Capo Stone is the executive director of Cornerstone Family Ministries, a United Women in Faith National Mission Institution in Tampa, Florida.
The children’s art is from the 2023 Daily Prayer Guide.