SENTINILES OF THE DAWN

When you wake up at 3:00 a.m. and try to get back to sleep, when you glance at your clock and murmer, “Oh no! Only three more hours to sleep,” when you look out the window to see if it is light yet, you have some appreciation of what a sentinel is.

Scripture captures this feeling of waiting and longing in Psalm 139: De Profundis  Clamavi Ad Te, Domine.

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.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

My Lectio Divina on this Psalm, using my anchor of Phil. 2:5, is as follows:
This Psalm gives me the feeling of someone who watches for the dawn. I have done this before, so I get the emotion of straining to see those first glimmers of light on the horizon. Darkness is why we have sentinels at all.  In ancient times, they were posted at the gates of the city and on its wall to guard against evil forces and attacks.
The Lord is the one who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. One of the striking ideas of this Psalm is how it says we must hope in the Lord. We hope because with the Lord there is steadfast love, love that won’t fade in strong sunlight, love that ensures Forever. Hope is one of those cardinal virtues (faith, hope, love) that are core to our living the Life of Christ.
Every day, since before 540 AD, when St. Benedict wrote his Rule and organized the Liturgy of the Word, monks, nuns  and clerics have chanted and recited an unending prayer of praise and glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages.
As an aspiring Lay Cistercian, my thoughts about hope are that Hope (notice the upper case) goes seamlessly with Faith. and actually complements it. Faith is a gift that God gives us to say that Jesus is Lord, who has the power to redeem.
  • Hope is the virtue that exists along with Faith to help us say, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
  • Hope is what Christ gives us to sustain us when those around us detract and scoff at the Lord and mock the Resurrection.
  • Hope is from the Holy Spirit, waiting for the Lord, proclaiming his death until he comes in glory.
  • Hope in the Lord is all we have as we face the uncertainty of life with Christ…Forever.
  • Hope is the difference between one who says, Jesus is Lord and Redeemer, and there is no Jesus. We Hope that the words of Jesus to us about being adopted sons and daughters are true. That Hope is from God.
I had a conversation many years ago with a classmate who kept telling me that all this Jesus stuff is so much wishful thinking made up by people who wanted Jesus to be God. He asked me, “what is the difference between what you believe about what Jesus said and my position that says Jesus was a God wanna-be and whose followers were duped into thinking he was god?”  I told him, ” I will die with Hope. and you will not.”
Praise be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and Forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen.

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