What a delightfully cheerful Psalm for the Sunday after Christmas!
If nothing else it is a reminder, if we need it, that life goes on; that the shininess of Christmas celebrations and that of the New Year in a few day’s time, is not shared by all of us. The groaning and suffering that pours from the Psalm is all too evident around the world.
Whilst some of us are lucky enough to get a break from the reality of the world’s pain, others live with it every day.
The question ‘Lord, how long?’ has leapt out as being particularly pertinent just before we begin a New Year. We are used to making personal, individual promises to lose weight, finally get to the gym, or use social media less, but what about making promises for our community and world?
When we ask ‘Lord, how long?’, we know from Jorge Maldonado’s song ‘Sent by the Lord’ that ‘the task is mine(ours) to do’. What about New Year promises to care for creation, recycle more, road-rage less, smile more, care more, pray and prophesy about God’s Good News more?
What about every-day promises to learn about things we don’t understand more, talk rather than judge more, smile at others more, seek peace more, walk the way of Jesus more?
It can all sound huge and maybe beyond us.
We may ask ‘where is our God?’ in 2019 but start small and in the knowledge that God is right alongside believing in us and giving us strength to follow.
Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain, Informed of God’s own bias we ask Him once again: “How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind? How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?”
God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach? And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach? And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know? And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”
John Bell and Graham Maule
The Rev’d Martin Knight is Minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon