By Ellen Di Giosia
In this season of Lent, we are reflecting on God’s promises fulfilled in the stories of scripture. From God’s creation of humankind, through the preservation of Noah and his family, leading into promises made to Abram and Sarai, God is always working to create a new reality – one that includes a people who listen to God’s words and obey and who share the stories of faith through all generations.
When we read the Psalms today, we often think of them as words of private devotion. But they were also words of communal worship. They remind the people of God’s protection and compassion, God’s majesty and presence in their lives. Likewise, we often think of Lent as a time of deep interior soul work. We take on new spiritual practices, we make sacrifices to help us identify with Jesus’ suffering, and we spend time reading scripture and praying. But Lent can also be intensely communal. It helps us to gather together and hear what God is saying. We encourage one another in the practices we have developed and teach each other the things we are learning.
Talking with our children is one great privilege of my ministry at Woodland, because the Hebrew scriptures repeat it over and over: Teach this to your children, preserve it for future generations, walk alongside them and tell them what God has done. So during this time, I tell them that Lent is a time to get ready. Easter is a big mystery and a big celebration. It takes time to get ready for an event like this, to prepare our minds to ponder something so miraculous and prepare our hearts to receive such a gift.
Lent can sometimes feel like a sad time for children, so this psalm is particularly appropriate. God has not hidden his face from the one who needs help, and God promises that the poor will receive what they need. This is a song of celebration and comfort. And as verse 30 says, we will tell our children again and again that God is near.