O Lord God Almighty, how long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us a source of contention to our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Â Â Psalm 80:4-7 (NIV)
Lectionary texts: 4th Sunday of Advent – Micah 5:2-5, Psalm 80:1-7, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55
As I write this, Christmas is just one short week away. As I write this, most of us are still stunned by the deaths of 20 children and 8 adults in an elementary school in Connecticut. If you haven’t seen the memorial service that was done on Sunday at Newtown, I hope you will consider watching it on one of the news sites. It was just such a blessing to hear all the different clergy come together and seek the comfort of God. I did not understand the Hebrew song by the rabbi or the one from the Muslim boy but my spirit understood the cries to God.
The lectionary texts this week speak to my heart about the faithfulness of God. Each of the books that the passages are taken are a reminder of God speaking and standing intimately with His children. It is a lie of Satan that God is disinterested or arbitrarily chooses to whom He makes His love known.
The passage from Luke includes a beautiful prayer from Mary that echoes the prayer from my heart today. â€œYou have remembered me, LORD, though I am so weak. Your great love and forgiveness is extended to me and to all who truly know You. I know that You have wonderful plans for me.â€
We live in a fallen world. We live in a world that has great evil in it. Jesus said that we would be light and salt in this world (Matthew 5:13-16). He told us not to worry, not to fear and to be encouraged (take heart!) and live in peace because He has overcome the world (John 16). We must accept that terrible, horrific things are going to happen. We cannot legislate it all away. We cannot isolate ourselves so that no evil touches us â€“ or our children. We must stand in the knowledge and truth and armor of God (Ephesians 6). We must teach our children by our words and our lives the way of God (Psalm 78). They need to grow up to know that Jesus is always there with them. He is their strength. He is their shield.
Jesus made the sacrifice (His life) once for all and so I have the assurance that there is nothing more needed. Because of Him, fear has no part of my life. Because of Jesus, I do not fear what any person can do to me or my children or my grandchildren. I will shed tears as this world is characterized with suffering and pain. I will turn my face toward God and offer those tears to Him and bring my questions and my pain to Him. Because it is in Jesus that I find my comfort and strength to go on toward the goal that has been promised to me (Philippians 3:13-14).
In the Presence of Jehovah written by Geron and Becky Davis and sung by Vicki Yohe