Although our iniquities testify against us,
act, O Lord, for your name's sake;
our apostasies indeed are many,
and we have sinned against you.
O hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler turning aside for the night?
Why should you be like someone confused,
like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?
Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,
and we are called by your name;
do not forsake us!
These are the opening lines of this week’s Old Testament lesson, a poem of lament from days gone by. This week we hear an excerpt from a longer passage about the drought that rocked Judah. It is easy at first blush to simply attribute this to an historic piece of poetry about an event in the distant past. It is easy to dismiss the poem as superstitious and naive; to view it as the work of people who believe that God is punishing them for their wickedness.
But the words have stuck with me all week as I have listened with increasing dismay and growing worry to the campaign rhetoric. I wondered as I read over the reports of last night’s debate ( I confess I did not have the stomach to watch) what it might be like, what might “happen” if you will, if we all prayed with the type of pleas we hear in this text. What if we all simply believed that God is in the midst of us, that we are called by God’s name. What if we believed we would not be forsaken?
I know many churches are asking people to pray for the outcome of this next election, for safety in polling places and for a safe and sane transfer of power. What if we “vigiled” for the next three weeks, not asking for our candidate to win or for our platform to seize the day but for God’s presence in this time and place and God’s will to be done in all or creation?