Advent’s liturgical readings from the prophet Isaiah are among the most beautiful, poetic, and hopeful texts of the Bible. They speak of expectation, longing, liberation, and God’s unfailing love and solidarity with humanity.
A few weeks ago, Bondings 2.0 asked its readers to write short reflections on selected Isaiah readings from the perspective of LGBTQ people and allies. We will print selections from these reflections on each of the four Advent Sundays and Christmas Eve. You can find the previous reflections here, here, and here.
Thanks to all who submitted reflections!
Below are the selections for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. They are preceded by the Scripture citation upon which the reflection is based.
Yes, people of Zion, dwelling in Jerusalem, you shall no longer weep;
God will be most gracious to you when you cry out;
As soon as God hears he will answer you.
God will give you bread in adversity and water in affliction.
No longer will your Teacher hide, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
And your ears shall hear a word behind you:
“This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left.
Submitted by: Cristina Traina Location: Evanston, Illinois
I came out nearly twenty years ago as a married, Catholic lesbian, when that could only mean “married to a man,” and Christianity was mostly anathema to the LGBTQ community. My amazing husband fully supported me, and still does. But it was hard to find community among lesbians my age because I hadn’t suffered for my identity as they had. And my Christianity and my marriage signaled that I still wasn’t committed to the cause.
After a lot of literal crying out and weeping, I received an answer to prayer: the fledgling LGBTQ ministry at my parish, St. Nicholas Church in Evanston, Illinois. They became my bread and water, my guides on the path.
Today’s LGBT community is much more “Q,” thank goodness. But my parish is still the place where I can be absolutely sure of being loved and loving as my whole self. Truly God hears and answers.
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,
Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her salvation like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication,and all kings your glory;
You shall be called by a new name bestowed by the mouth of God.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of God, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No more shall you be called “Forsaken,” nor your land called “Desolate,”
But you shall be called “My Delight is in her,” and your land “Espoused.”
For God delights in you, and your land shall be espoused.
For as a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.
Submitted by: Don E. Siegal Location: Three Rivers, California
There are many names in this passage that at one time or another in my life as a queer person have applied to me. “Forsaken” and “Desolate”come to mind in the bad times. As I began to come to terms with my sexuality and my faith, I think of “My Delight is in Her.” Late in life, I met a wonderful man, William McKinnon, with whom I established a long-term relationship; “Espoused” or “Married” comes to mind. Finally, my partner and I came to the realization that God really did love and care for his queer children. This resulted in both of us reconciling with the Church. The emotional and spiritual chords that resonate within me in this passage get all mixed up and occur in the same time and space as a form of intersectionality.
Isaiah 40: 3-5
A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of God!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of God shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of God has spoken.
Submitted by: Anonymous Location: Italy
The wilderness. Barren. Isolated. Forlorn. Lonely. How often is this the experience of LGBTQ+ Christians? How often do LGBTQ+ Christians feel as if they live in a desert, a wilderness? How often are they relegated or even pushed by their fellow Christians to the margins – to the wilderness – of the community, a second-rate place where they are ostracized, overlooked or simply ignored altogether?
And yet it is here – in the wilderness – that the voice cries out, “Prepare the way of God!”. It is here – in the desert – that the voice “makes straight a highway for God”. It is here – on the margins – that the “glory of God shall be revealed”.
The voices of LGBTQ+ Christians are not futile; their cries are not in vain. Rather, their stories, their lives, their voices help announce the Reign of God, preparing the way for the Glory of God.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 22, 2019