Advent Devotional | 2nd Wednesday in Advent | Year C | December 9th, 2015

Isaiah 35:3-7

Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees. 
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.’ 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
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; 
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. 

Crazy stuff is about to go down! 

That's probably the most accurate translation of today's passage from Isaiah in modern vernacular.  

You think you've seen everything?  Well, have I got something for you!  Isaiah 35:3-7 says that just because everything has been one way does not mean that that way is going to continue forever.  This passage challenges us to remember that we must not accept the way things are as the way things are supposed to be.  Blind people are not supposed to be that way.  Deaf people, likewise, are not meant to remain so.  People will illness will leap with joy, unencumbered by their disabilities.  Those who have been unable to sing will do so with great joy.  Streams will shoot out from the parched land of the deserts and waters will break forth in the wilderness.

For some people, this is good news.  Anyone who is blind, deaf, or lame would probably be in this camp.

For others, this is bad news.  Anyone who profits off of people who are weaker than them will probably be in another camp.  

"Be strong, do not fear" we are told.  God is coming to make all things new.  Which camp do you want to be in?  The camp of people who welcome God's newness with open arms or the camp of people who resist it with senseless futility?  I don't know about you, but I want to greet God's newness even if it challenges me to see things and people in different ways.  I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but it's certainly going to be one blessed adventure!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Prayer of the Day:
God of All Newness,
come and bring sight to the parts of my life that have been blinded by my shortcomings.
Come and bring movement to be parts of life that have been immobilized by my brokenness.
Come and bring new birth to the parts of my life that need renewal and redemption.
Come and bring praise to my speechless lips and songs to my silent heart.  Amen.


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.