Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Lord, you were favourable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned all their sin.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.
Advent is the time of expectation, of waiting. Our text for today tells us that love and faithfulness WILL meet; the Lord WILL give what is good. But here, as throughout much of the Old Testament, deliverance is always in the future tense, always coming, but never here, now, today.
As we have heard, the waiting began early for the Israelites: the waiting, the wandering, the bargaining. And yet, it never ends, for the Israelites, or for many of us. Salvation is always “at hand,” never quite “in hand.”
And we too, are always waiting: waiting for peace, waiting for understanding, waiting for a community that understands us. Waiting is something I know a lot about—always waiting to sing well enough to be noticed, always waiting to find the conductor or the director who will hire you, waiting for the opportunity that will lift you to the next level of your craft, waiting in hotel rooms for 10-minute-long auditions in strange countries and cities. And I would bet that each of you has your own story of waiting to tell.
What I have learned from these texts and from my years of waiting is that truly what matters is not what happens at the end of our time of waiting (if indeed it ever ends), but HOW we wait. A wise woman I used to know said “Impatience is waiting in a hurry, so patience must be waiting with the right attitude.”
And we know from the wonderful stories that were retold to us this summer and fall, the Israelites did not always wait well—they failed to see God’s provision for them, they failed many times to wait in faith. But not here, not the psalmist in Psalm 85.
This text holds hope to those who trust in God, and in fact, it echoes the promises of Isaiah 40:1; “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God;” and to my favorite, which became a wonderful song in Camille Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio and Felix Mendelsohnn’s Hymn of Praise: Psalm 40:2, “1I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
Advent is the time of expectation, of waiting, of preparation. Love and faithfulness WILL meet, the Lord WILL give what is good, the reminder to us that in the waiting there is a time to prepare, a time to remember in faith, a time to embrace the good and the blessings around us, to stop focusing on what we lack. May your time of waiting be a time of expectant, faithful preparation for whatever the days ahead hold in store.