An Advent reflection for Wednesday, December 13th by Rev. Jeannette Conver
Lectionary reading for 12/13/2023: Psalm 27; Malachi 2:10-3:1; Luke 1:5-17
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 27
Psalm 27 New Living Translation
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
“Why should I be afraid?,” I often ask myself, quoting Psalm 27. I learned this Psalm as a child and it is engraved on my memory. It comes unbidden into my thoughts when I feel anxious, threatened, and…yes, afraid. There are .…oh so many reasons to be afraid!– But these trusting words wash over me, insistently. “Why should I be afraid,” sings the psalmist when the Lord is my light, my salvation, my refuge. He both trusts God, but looks realistically at all his very good reasons to fear. He knows where to turn, who to call. He turns from his circumstances to the One that hears and has always been faithful with mercy and compassion.
It takes courage to wait, to be patient. I’ve never connected courage to waiting in quite that way. But it makes sense! We cry out to God in the moment, or even over time about an unresolved situation. Maybe we wait for test results–and our life, our career hangs in the balance. My loved one is in surgery–will it be successful? I have to go to court to resolve a dispute–what will the outcome be? I’m lost in the dark–will I find my way? This circumstance I’m in is unbearable and I feel hopeless–will I ever be rescued? It takes courage to persist in trust when it feels like we’re on hold with God.
Like the Psalmist, we swing from doubt to hope as we wait for God’s salvation, light, and refuge. One moment we gratefully remember all the times God has hidden us from danger, lightened our darkness, and protected us from enemies. The next moment we pray in desperation, “Don’t leave me, don’t abandon me.” “Hear me... be merciful!” Frederick Buechner once said that doubt is the “ants in the pants of faith: it keeps us moving and alive!” When doubt and fear move us to turn toward our good God we can have confidence! We can have confidence that our Creator will lead us on the right path and teach us how to live!
So some days we may be able to shout with joy “The Lord is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid.” Other days we may shout with desperation, “Don’t turn your back on me. Don’t reject me.” And on another day all we can manage is, “Lord I trust you”, and wait patiently.
Read the Psalm three times slowly. Let it sink into your heart and mind.
Choose the sensory pathway that helps you feel the Lord holding you close–walk in nature’s beauty; listen to several of the songs inspired by this Psalm; look at the painting in the link below.
“The Lord is My Light and My Salvation” by John Rutter https://youtu.be/1KXsmd4a2Bs?si=nAUUVDymOX8CsfxH
“The Lord is My Light” by Frances Allitsen https://youtu.be/DFm3kd70XWE?si=Z62_avaUwm8WSsEO
This piece from Sanctified Art depicts God’s tender care of a frightened child. https://images.app.goo.gl/JL7X8Yn8H2Y1J5fE9
Receive this blessing:
May you be set high on a rock, above those powers and forces that work against you. May the Lord teach you the good and right Way and hold you close. May he lead you on a well-lighted path. In the times when God is silent, may you have the courage to wait, trusting in God’s mercy and grace that brings you resurrection life. Thanks be to God. Amen.
About the Author
Rev. Jeannette Conver lives near the beautiful North Cascades and Puget Sound. She loves being lead pastor and preaching God’s Word to her congregation of Community Covenant Church of Clear Lake, Washington. She’s a certified COACH, a mentor, and is moved by making music and hiking through nature’s beauty.