Our Hope and Expectation – The balm of Gilead…

Monday in the first week of Advent, Year B 
30 November 2020

The balm of Gilead…

Reading: Isaiah 64: 1 – 9

Scripture: “There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.” (Isaiah 64:7)

Reflection: The year is 2020, a leap year, which at its outset is pregnant with possibilities for the fulfillment of the new year’s resolutions and lofty dreams of many.  Hidden from full view in the shadows of 2019, was a lurking pandemic, the effects of which have left many feeling as if the world is coming to an end; as if, we have been delivered “into the hand of our iniquity”.

Our hopes for a happy new year were dashed, and, life as we knew it or expected it, suddenly changed, leaving us to deal with the stresses and strains brought on by our disappointments, our fears, our anxieties and the unknown. Daily, we are assailed with the grim statistics of death and disease from all over the world; we can see no early end to this worsening situation and it is driving us crazy.

“Where is God?” we ask, in our blindness, despair and impatience. How could our loving God allow all this to happen to us and to the world? The end of time is nigh, say some! We feel oppressed, depressed and forsaken and can readily appreciate the weight of the hardships of our forefathers who in slavery, sang from deep within, for the balm of  Gilead to “make the wounded whole”, to revive their flagging spirits, to deliver them from their dismal lives and provide hope for the discouraged and downtrodden.

But now, the COVID-induced stillness has forced us to stop, to pause and to re-think who we are, and whose we are; to look carefully at the darkness in our own lives lived in despair, ruled by unhappiness and failed attempts at satisfaction; at the failure of our leaders who function more like instruments of oppression rather than protectors saving lives; at the inequities which seemingly cannot be resolved; at the politicians who jostle for power while their constituents stand in line for handouts of cash and/or food;  at the pain and loss, greed and hopelessness.  

So, we pause and wait and, in the quiet of the darkness, we acknowledge that we really need a Saviour. More willing to listen and better able to hear Him speak, we come to the realization that our past busyness and self-centredness have caused us to miss that which is the essence of life, and in which our hope for the future resides – God our Father. We long for the human love, connection and fellowship as our material possessions are now of little value, and we (some by default) turn to Him for reassurance that the world as it now exists will not remain as it is.

All we have to sustain us is hope – hope that God is coming, ready to be born in us again and to transform the world in which we live into a more promising, fulfilling and meaningful reality . And, in the flickering light from the first candle lit on the Advent Sunday of Hope, we begin to see our way out of the darkness which surrounds us. All is not lost. The best is yet to come; it is to be found in Him, our balm of Gilead, our hope and expectation. 

Meditation: ‘Tis the season of Advent, the season of hope. May our hope be renewed, and our faith strengthened as we intentionally and purposefully listenand inwardly digestHis message in these trying times.

Prayer: God of all hope, with aching hearts, confused minds, and bruised souls we reach out to You, our balm of Gilead. Amen.

St. Jude’s Church
Stony Hill

Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas 2020
by The St. Jude’s Writers