Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
2 Corinthians 1:2-5
In my Daily Office prayer book for Advent are different bible readings for each day of the week. There is also a verse which is described as being suitable ‘on any day in Advent’:
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
(This is, incidentally, the first line of Handel’s Messiah that I saw on Saturday night!)
Comfort is a theme that runs through Advent, the comfort of God coming to His people Israel.
Recently, I found a small book called ‘In His Presence‘ which was given to my grandfather on the occasion of his confirmation. It’s kind of a small catechism and in the back is a section describing each stage of the Book of Common Prayer service of Holy Communion and one section, following the absolution, is called ‘THE COMFORTABLE WORDS’ which says:
Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me all that travail and are heavy laden and I will refresh you.
It goes on with other verses before the Eucharistic prayer begins.
The phrase Comfortable Words sounds rather quaint to our modern ears but it is absolutely true.
What does the word comfort mean to you?
The word ???comfort??? comes from the Latin ???cum??? (with) and ???fort??? (strength). The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, sends us God’s strength. It’s God’s way of fortifying us.
The word comfort has come to mean something different to us now, however. I remember as a teenager at school one of the first times I was introduced to meditation. The person leading encouraged us to imagine sitting on the most comfortable cushion imaginable and slowly relaxing into this cushion until it seemed to totally surround us. This really appealed to me and is for me the image I have when I think of the word comfort. I imagine God’s comfort surrounding me like a giant cushion, swallowing me up in his care.
As Paul says in our reading today, when we receive this comfort from God, it gives us the strength to give the same comfort to those around us.
If you are feeling distant from God, ask him to show you his comfort (the image of the huge cushion might help in your thinking as you pray). If you feel you’re experiencing God’s comfort right now, pray for wisdom as to with whom you can share this comfort today.