The Biblical text never promises wealth and prosperity to the faithful. What it does promise, is peace, well-being, and unity among the gathered faithful. The English translation fails us when it replaces God’s vision of shalom, with our worldly visions of extravagant wealth.
In times of hardship, despair, and trials on the journey of faithfulness, we may wonder, God, what do you want from us?! We are not the first to ask such a question, nor are we the first to receive such an answer: act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.
The Grinch saw the Whos down in Who-Ville decorating, singing, and cooking, but thought their merriment was a sham. Perhaps we should question our own nonsensical over-indulgence in the season.
In a week where hope seemed hard to find, and the prophet bemoans the worship of God’s people, it is God’s “but” that indicates the promise of God’s justice.
The story of Samuel going behind Saul to anoint David is not simply a call to follow God’s will into dangerous places against un-faithful kings, but should also be understood as God’s call to seek leadership in the left out and unexpected.
We sit in wonder of the same things as the people of Israel who were scattered in exile: for truly as a people – as a nation and as a community – we are broken and we are yearning for a new promise of hope.