Tuesday of the first week of Advent
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the LORD.
The poet’s prayer ends with this exhortation to the community as many psalms do. After a lengthy plea for help against bitter enemies, we hear the song change. Something has happened in the course of the song that leads the poet now to say: “Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege.” The poet’s prayer has been heard, and relief and joy burst forth in the exhortation that all who wait for the Lord’s help should all take courage.
The poet’s summons is right and true – we should take courage in dark times – but we should hear that this exhortation is born of suffering not prosperity. Our poet is not like those James warns when he says “What good is it…if a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill?” (2:14-16). Our exhortation is not spoken by those surrounded by success and prosperity. This is a word from one who has walked the troubled path. The poet’s struggle allows us to hear its truth.
The beating heart of the universe is steadfast love. God is at work in the world to bring us and all things to healing and life. It is why we take courage.
Eternal God, Breath of Life,
Font of Hope, and our Eternal Joy;
Open the doors of our hearts, and the gates of your mercy
to come into our world and our lives,
and bring us to that day
when all the earth is redeemed by your presence.
— The prayer for Week 1: A doorway to hope