Readings: Psalm 146:5-10; 2 Peter 3:11-18; Luke 3:1-18
5 Happy are those whose help is in the God of Jacob,
whose help is in the Lord, their God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
The psalmist is human, subject to life’s vicissitudes as are all of us. In the Psalter we read that he experienced heartache, anger, frustration, fear, even numbness. We sense that he felt these emotions deeply. Many of us are experiencing deep emotion as we grapple with the tenor of the recent presidential campaign and try to recalibrate our lives to a reality that we either wish to ignore or want to believe doesn’t exist.
Yet Psalm 146 is an expression of the psalmist’s optimism. “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” he starts in verse 1 and ends “Praise the Lord!” in verse 10. It is a hopeful message. He continues in verse 5, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help.”
He exhorts us in verses 7-9 to remember the oppressed and marginalized, feed the hungry, help open people’s eyes [to iniquity], assist strangers, relieve the pain of loneliness in others.
My law partner and I had a conversation about how to react to the election. We acknowledged how easy it is to descend to the depths of despair at the nation’s seeming lack of a moral compass. But it was he, who is not a religious man, who suggested we react positively by doing something to advance the human condition. Whether by writing a check to the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or some other charity that is a force for good, or getting personally involved in charitable work, such an act would help lift us out of the fog and into the divine light the psalmist sees.
God allows us to immure ourselves in the hell of our choosing; or we can live into the circumstances that have been wrought, meet the challenge, and choose to do something to move humanity forward to that Omega Point that the great mystic Teilhard de Chardin saw all of creation converging upon.
Vaclav Havel, who knew his own form of government oppression, wrote, “Hope is the deep orientation of the human soul that can be held at the darkest times.”
Let us continue to pray for our president, our president-elect, our Congress and our Supreme Court, those venerable institutions in which we necessarily place our national trust. And then let’s take an active step by doing something to advance the human condition, being a force for good in society in an outpouring of love, hope and peace in the name of the Prince of Peace.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Offered by Bryan Fredrickson, contemplative, lawyer, seeker of the Christ Child.