“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.”
Today’s text comes from Zacharias’ prophecy concerning his son, John the Baptist, who would become ‘prophet of the Most High.’ The prophecy that John would become a great prophet was astounding, and filled the people with hope as it had been four hundred years since Israel had a prophet among them. That last prophet was Malachi.
What a year we had! What a year! I am 41 years old and in my life I cannot recall yet another moment when I have had such a variety of emotions. Four people near me lost their lives to the coronavirus, and another 12 were infected or exposed. I also talked tearfully with friends about incidents of bigotry against them and their families.
Since March, I have had many, many moments where hope seemed to be lost.
But when I have reached this stage, something stirs in my heart – my faith. As an everlasting reminder of God’s word, of the love of Christ for the children of God, Zacharias’ prophecy echoes across the ages. If we are emotionally exhausted, feeling distanced, and frustrated without words, by all that continues to impact our lives, then in Zacharias’ words hope is found. It is an eternal message of hope that applies here and now, just as it applied over two thousand years ago. The divine refulgence never ceases to shine, no matter how dark it is, it is the light that illuminates hope in the midst of trouble and despair.
Litany For Not Losing Hope
By Fran Pratt
Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer (2018)
God, our faithful Friend:
We know that you are not like the unjust judge in the parable. You are just and merciful and compassionate. We often find it difficult to hold suffering in our minds alongside hope. Our hearts are often fragile.
And our minds forgetful.
Help us to be ok with expressing a full range of emotions:
Lament and joy,
Anger and affection,
Gratitude and disgust, excitement and sadness, Doubt and empathy.
Help us to be disciplined, grounded in practices that bring us life:
Grant us a river of hope
That flows beneath all we do,
In which we may refresh ourselves
Whenever we grow weary.
And help us to be as persistent as the widow:
Not losing hope,
Praying without ceasing,
Seeking and working for justice.