And the promise is kept

Last week a meeting I attended began with a prayer which was effectively a litany of promise: God's promise of enduring presence, in us, in our world, in the midst of joy and pain, beauty and ugliness, fear and fullness. It was a good prayer for Advent, when we are caught up in the not-yet and the already, and when we focus especially on the Incarnation as the everlasting fulfillment of God's promise to humanity.

As we prayed, it occurred to me that a promise is usually something for the future - we don't generally promise that something is, but that it will be. God's promises, however, are outside time, embracing past, present and future in the same fidelity. I am with you always... You are mine... I will be your God... words uttered to Israel and Jesus' disciples millennia ago are said, in the same breath, to each and all of us. As each response in the litany effectively said - The promise is kept - our God is there; a promise which has been kept for all ages, is now, and will continue to be so.

If you're looking for something with which to pray during this third - and final! - week of Advent, here is the last part of the litany; the part which captured and spoke to me especially. Whereas most of it focused on God's presence - and promise - in many situations, people and events, these final few verses are more intimate: God not only with us, but within us, deep within, lifting our human frailty and loving through our efforts... transforming and transcending us, that we may be his Heart and his heralds for others... The promise is kept and will be kept - not only by God, but in and through us.

For no other can console in such a way,
for no other can lift human frailty to eternal destiny,
for no other can call wounded mortality to immortal peace and joy.

Our God is there - there is no other

And yet within all humanity and deep in each of our fibres,
because we are made in his image and likeness:
Our God is here - and the promise is to be kept

And therefore in hands that are tender,
in caring thoughts, and in all human creative goodness:
Our God is here - and the promise is to be kept

For each of us is called to serve, to face adversity and to enjoy success,
in order to let others know
Our God is here - and the promise will be kept

NB: The person leading the prayer didn't know who it was by (it was a sheet of paper he'd kept from an event several years ago), and my online searching hasn't yielded any results, so I can't acknowledge authorship. If anyone knows who the author is, please let me know.