On Sunday, we talked about the Psalms and the vital role they have played in the formation of Christians (and Jews) for years. We noted (with the help of a 13th century illuminated page from a musical Psalter) their significance in the prayer life of monks, who sing their way through all 150 Psalms every week, 52 times a year, for years on end. We wondered how that would shape our hearts and minds, if we were to make our way through all 150 Psalms a week! 500 years ago, Calvin called the Psalms the "Anatomy of the Soul" because they have the unique ability to help us articulate what is happening inside of us, in the presence of the Lord. And in this time of "sheltering in place" we have a lot that is happening inside of us!
I love how the Psalms persistently ask God questions - and help us do the same. But I have also noticed how they do not ask "why me?" but "how long?" There are nine "How Long?!" Psalms in the Bible. Psalm 13 is one of them, and it begins with five questions to God:
- how long?
- how long will you forget me?
- how long will you hide your face from me?
- how long must I wrestle with my thoughts?
- how long will my enemy triumph over me?
Embedded in the honest question "how long" is the belief that God will yet be faithful. The "why me" question does not orient us outside of ourselves to hope (even if it is long in coming), but causes us to spiral downward - focusing on ourselves and our misfortune. The patristic fathers called this being "incurvatus in se" - curved in upon ourselves. This was their main definition of sin! So let us together learn from the language of the Psalms and turn "excurvatus" (outwards) toward God and others, even as we wrestle honestly with our questions and hurt.
To this end, I'd like to introduce you to this folksy Psalm 13 - a Psalm of Lament for our unfamiliar times. I had slotted us to learn it during Lent, but since we have not been meeting together, we haven't had the opportunity to learn it. Let it be your (and your family's) prayer!
And finally, here is the opening portion of the "Coronavirus Psalm" (as we are calling Psalm 2) that Matt read at his liturgical station:
Why all the hubbub? Why all the plotting, people? Why all the conniving and complaining? Celebrities and politicians are parrots and parodies, Repeating the same talking points, Rejecting God and his chosen King.
We wanted to introduce you to its translator: our friend Pete Santucci. He has made the Psalms very fresh in this new version, published as "Everyday Psalms" earlier this year. He is offering his book for $1 (electronic) to Friends & Family during this coronavirus season. We highly recommend it! Learn the anatomy of your own soul, and God's as well, through this unique translation as we wait and ask the Lord "how long?"
P.S. - Here is a wonderful message on WAITING from Bishop Ken (click the video below). It is so encouraging! Bishop Ken will be coming at some point this year to lead our youth confirmations. Spend some time getting to know this wonderful shepherd! (The word bishop in Greek means "shepherd of the shepherds").