For sheer beauty, Lord,
both in content and in poetry, there are few words
in the scriptures that can equal these.
Read aloud from the pages of the English Bible
they are magnificent. Sung as a tenor aria
in Handel's Messiah they resonate within the soul.
Recited in the original Hebrew,
as I heard them first in seminary,
they breathe a passion and a tenderness
that speak direct from heart to listening heart.
If ever human voice might bear the language
of divinity, then Isaiah reached that pinnacle
when he sang these hallowed words.
It is my hope and my believe, my Lord,
that here, as in few other places - until the coming
of the Christ - I can see clear into your heart,
and that heart is filled with love,
with longing for the welfare of your children,
with promise that, however dark the night,
however grim the prospect, your word is sure,
your providence is trustworthy, and you will feed
your flock like a shepherd with his lambs.
Let me rest in this promise, good Lord.
J. Barrie Shepherd, from A Child is Born: Meditations for Advent and Christmas (Westminster John Knox Press, 1988)