1O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble
Advent is a season of waiting. Some of us count down each passing week of Advent by lighting a candle in an Advent wreath. Some of us count down the passing days of Advent by opening a “window” in an Advent calendar containing a picture and a Bible verse (some even contain a piece of chocolate for each day – a brilliant idea in my opinion!).
For those of us in the Midwest the weather is colder and the nights are shorter and darker. The readings of this season and the image of waiting for a Light in the darkness resonates.
This year many things are different. At the start of the year, our congregation adopted a theme for the year called “Bay Shore’s Neighborhood”. We used quotes from Fred Rogers, the famous Presbyterian Pastor and children’s television host, to explore how we can be better neighbors. We came up with several creative ideas, but none of us envisioned that part of being a good neighbor, for the safety of our neighbors, would include separation from family, friends, and those sacred spaces that many of us connect with even more than we may have realized. This year, the concept of waiting is much harder as we wait apart from one another and from the people that we love. This year, I experience waiting with less excitement and anticipation and with much more exhaustion and anxiety.
The ancient Israelites waited at times with exhaustion and anxiety, and they, like each of us, needed the encouragement offered by this psalmist that our waiting is not be in vain because God and with us and God’s “steadfast love endures forever.” The psalmist continues to remind us that God has redeemed us from trouble in the past, giving us hope that we will be redeemed again.
Despite what is going on around us today, we have reason to praise God – we have an everlasting hope in God’s love! We can help share God’s love with our neighbor with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, providing hope to a suffering world. We can be good neighbors by living out the Lutheran (ELCA) tag line – “God’s work. Our hands.” We provide hope to the world by following God’s lead by gathering our neighbors from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South, and using our own “hands” – or words, or resources – to do God’s work in the world.