Daily Devotion for November 25, 2020

Annus Horribilis

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.
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.
Psalm 130  (NRSV)

Today is the last day of Liturgical Year A. If you are ready to put 2020 behind you, perhaps you could celebrate New Year's Eve today and celebrate the new year on Thanksgiving Day!

On the 40th anniversary of her reign, Queen Elizabeth remarked, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.” The year 1992 was a difficult one for the royal family. The fire at Windsor Castle, two messy family divorces in quick succession, and a tell-all book topped the Queen’s list.

Here in the States many of us would perhaps proclaim 2020 to be an Annus Horribilis (a horrible year). We have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and other causes, many of our buildings have been shuttered, relationships have been severely strained by differing theological and political viewpoints and many of us are for the first time seeing that our beloved U.S.A. has not lived up to the promise of “liberty and justice for all.” Many of us will have Thanksgiving dinner alone. In these struggles may we have compassion for one another.

Yet, precious children were born this year in many of our families. Some of our churches have stepped up in ways that have reached new people for Christ in ways that would have not even been dreamed were in not for this Annus Horribilis. Psalm 130, among others, reminds us that God is still present and God’s love steadfast. Words from Sunday School songs invite responses to this abiding love even in annus horribilis:

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God hath done
Count your blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done  (Johnson Oatman, Jr. 1897)


Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!  (Ina Duley Ogden 1912)

 Dear Lord, as we lay to rest the challenges of the past year, make us more aware of your presence, grateful for the blessings you offer, and ever willing to build a better tomorrow for all your people. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.