Psalm 120 is followed by a more famous one: I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The mountains could be seen as a source of stability. It’s where you would get your fortresses against attack, and also where you’d find the high places” where gods were worshipped. 

This should remind us that some people will be coming to this election in a state of shock. Their high places have been cast down. People on all sides have grown disillusioned with their old political allegiances. For those who invested much in these connections this will be traumatic. Some will be unwilling to vote at all. 

And this won’t just be those outside the Church. Christians too may have had cherished political assumptions and hopes fall through in these past few months and years. Some will be deeply disappointed in their political party. Others will have been committed to our EU membership, and will still be horrified at Brexit. 

In contrast to looking to the mountains for help, the Psalmist turns to God – the maker of heaven and earth.” This is easy to say, but hard to do consistently in response to despair. However, the Psalm does not leave us comfortless. Instead, it goes on to speak of God’s watchful eye on us. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand.” For some the eye of God may be intimidating, but we know that this is a gaze of love not of judgement. Others place an emphasis on us watching for God, but here instead the focus is on God’s unsleeping watch over us. 

This election campaign will be an important time to cultivate a sense of God watching over our coming and going both now and for evermore” – not to condemn, but to love and sustain. It is this that keeps our tongue from evil, encourages us in exile, and helps us up when the rocks are taken away. And for us it is a presence guaranteed by Jesus – Emmanuel – when he promised his disciples at the end of the Gospel of Matthew: Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

We remember God’s presence with us now by the Spirit, but we also look forward, particularly in Advent, to Jesus coming again when we will see face to face. Like the Psalmist, we are pilgrims on a journey to Jerusalem, reflecting on how we live in preparation for it. And so we pray with our fellow pilgrim, St Patrick: 

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left…

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,