Lent Devotions: A gift from the past

March 3, 2017

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

By Dr. Elizabeth Liebert

Isaiah 40:30-31

When I was considerably younger, teaching junior high in a Spokane parochial school, I had the blessing of being introduced to an independent, fundamentalist-leaning preacher who was teaching and preaching about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. So began an unlikely but extremely rich time of ecumenical sharing – he (actually it was they, as his whole family engaged in the ministry) from his free church, Bible-loving orientation, and we Catholics from our liturgical tradition. Among the gifts that flowed in our direction was a tradition of singing biblically based “choruses,” including this one:

They that wait upon the LORD

Shall renew their strength.

They shall mount up with wings like eagles.

They shall run and not grow weary

They shall walk and never faint. (KJV)

In these days so permeated by fear, anxiety, anger, fatigue, discouragement, this old chorus reaches out over time. It sings in my heart and reminds me that even though youths (which I am not any more) grow weary, and the young grow faint, we do have this promise: we will soar like eagles, we can run and not grow weary, we can walk (more my speed!) and not faint. We will be granted the energy it takes to keep going in the work of justice.

The key, it seems, is in that first line of the chorus:  “They that wait upon the LORD.” We only have this ability to walk without fainting, to run, and, yes, even to soar as if on the wings of an eagle as we “wait upon the LORD.” Not in and through our own power, stamina, gifts, but by trusting and hoping in the LORD, acknowledging the source of our power and strength, and aligning ourselves with the work God is already beginning in the midst of the struggle around us.

So, as we begin this Lenten Season, let us stop, listen deeply, acknowledge our fears, hurt, anxiety, fatigue, bruises, and whatever else we carry, and wait in hope upon the LORD. From this center, to which we are invited to return daily, find strength for today. As each of us does the piece given to us for this day, we shall crawl, stumble, walk, run, and sometimes even soar as together we respond to the call of our God for justice, inclusion, harmony, and peace among all peoples and Earth itself.

Dr. Elizabeth Liebert is professor of spiritua life at the San Francisco Theological Seminary

In these days so permeated by fear, anxiety, anger, fatigue, discouragement, this old chorus reaches out over time. 

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