Revelation 1: 1 – 8
Matthew 22: 23-33
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.
I was 16 when I first really “heard” this psalm. I was a delegate to a youth synod in Shigawake, a tiny fishing village on the Gaspé coast. The synod speaker, Bishop Tim Matthews, was unlike any Bishop (or priest, for that matter) I had ever met. He was so poetic, prayerful – and playful, that I wrote down this quote: “God loves you just the way you are and wants to befriend, that is, to be-friends-with you. You have a place at the Table and in the world.” These words made a huge impression on me as a teenager trying to figure out those very things.
An adult leader at the same event had a different message. He told a few of us “if you can’t speak in tongues, you’re not really a Christian. We’re all just miserable sinners needing to be saved.” These conflicting messages sent me and another confused youth scurrying into the sanctuary of little St. Paul’s Church, overlooking the Bay de Chaleur.
We lifted the huge Bible from the lectern and read from the psalm we’d heard earlier that morning: Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. (Ps. 25: 4-5) We sat there awhile, stunned, and then, mercifully, reassured. I believe it was the first time I ever prayed for guidance.
The prayer of Advent is a prayer for guidance, a prayer for the courage to wait “all day long” for the God of our salvation in whom we can trust. There’s nothing we need to “do” (like speaking in tongues); we just need to “be”, to be friends with God. That kind of welcome enables us to befriend others along the way, remind them they too are God’s Beloved, inviting all to a place at the Table – and in the world.
– Frances Drolet-Smith