“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Ps. 90:17 ESV)
The year 2020 was a year we will remember for a long time. It was a year of uncertainty, fear and pain.
We cannot forget…
- the fear of Covid infection; the fear that a family member may unexpectedly get infected, be placed in ICU and then pass away without us seeing them again;
- the long lines of cars to food banks as people lost their jobs and businesses closed;
- the emotional pain of social isolation from loved ones;
- the spiritual aching because of limited opportunities for in-person worship and partaking of the Sacrament.
But we also remember…
- the selflessness of health front-liners who risked their lives to heal the sick;
- the development of our latent computer skills as we participated in on-line worship and virtual choral singing;
- the gift of time with our spouse and children.
Superimposed on the pandemic were the issues that confronted us — the disregard for human life, systemic social inequalities and the presidential elections.
We enter 2021 threatened by a second wave and possible mutation of the virus. A lot of work needs to be done to re-unite the nation.
But God is working. We have the vaccines and the nation will be led to a new beginning.
One of my favorite new year hymns is “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”. Based on Psalm 90 the hymn was written in 1714 by Isaac Watts at a time when religious intolerance and persecution was threatening England.
In that year the British Parliament passed the Established Church Act. It threatened to constrain and curtail dissent from the Church of England. However, the Queen died on the day it was supposed to be enacted; the Act was never implemented and was later repealed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schism_Act_1714)
The hymn reminds us that our hope is built not on the knowledge of the scientists or diligence of political leaders. It is built on God who is our help in the past, our shelter from the stormy blast and, through our faith in Christ, our eternal home,
O God, our Maker, Redeemer and Comforter, keep us in Your grace and accompany us as we face the joys and challenges of this new year. Through Christ, Amen.