Earlier this week I saw an article online that bore the rather startling headline, “Every Parent I Know Wants to Walk Into the Sea Right Now.” That’s obviously an emotional rather than a factual assessment, but the emotions are real.

The sudden onslaught of the omicron virus has overwhelmed almost everything with the startling speed and extent of its spread in just a few short weeks, but perhaps nowhere has it made a bigger impact than in schools and, by extension, children and their families.

The article in question was reacting specifically to the specter of a return to online-only learning for young children, which is happening or being actively considered in many places because of the number of both children and teachers who are contracting the virus. And in those contexts, parents are faced with the seemingly impossible choice of whether to support going to online learning to protect their children from the virus, or to support them going to in-person school in the midst of this surge because of how difficult and isolating online learning is for younger children, in particular.

And this comes after almost two solid years of dealing with such stress and trauma, both of which are cumulative over time. And the truth is, while that headline is overstated, almost all of us can relate in some way to the sense of overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, and bone-deep exhaustion with all of this, though we all hold and express that in different ways.

I’ve said more than once in this pandemic that, if nothing else, it has given me a much more profound insight and appreciation into the themes of Advent: of waiting in both hope and expectation for deliverance and salvation from God, as well as lament for the present circumstances and challenges that we continue to endure. Liturgically, we have passed through that season already recently, along with Christmas and Epiphany, yet we still find ourselves in the midst of Advent waiting in many ways.

As you also may have heard me say, one of the best places to turn in difficult times is to the Psalms in the Bible, which are some of Scripture’s greatest gifts in terms of the tenacity of their faith and hope, and the honesty of their reflections on what it means to suffer.

This week, the Psalm that has spoken the most to me has been Psalm 130. As we are all looking and waiting for signs that the omicron wave may be starting to recede even as it continues to crash around us, the central stanza is particularly powerful:

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits,
And in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning
more than those who watch for the morning

If you have ever stayed up through the night, watching for signs of danger while waiting anxiously for the first signs of the light of day, you know the power of that repeated image in the text. But metaphorically, I think almost any of us can relate to that in some sense right now: watching and listening for signs of danger in a new sniffle or cough in the night, all while waiting for signs that this difficult night is fading away in the light of a new day.

Like us the Psalmist does not wait placidly for the Lord, but rather like those who watch for the morning: with their whole being eagerly alert for the first signs of deliverance. But the Psalmist does wait in confidence and hope that, just as no night has ever failed to give way to day, the Lord will not fail to honor that confidence and hope.

This Sunday, we will be thinking about the dynamics of faith, hope, and waiting in a different way as we consider one of my favorite stories in the Bible: the wedding at Cana, in which Jesus turns water into wine as the first of his miraculous signs.

I hope that this Psalm may be strengthening to you, wherever this newsletter may find you, and to see you, online or in person, as we too gather once more in worship this Sunday with confidence and hope in Christ coming to us.

Grace and Peace,