One Hundred and Fifty (February 7, 2013)

…Opening To…

If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, the crack where junior’s Frisbee hit it. If you look through a window, you see the world beyond. Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a Holy Bore and those who see it as the Word of God, which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past into the depths of ourselves. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

Save me, God, because the waters have reached my neck! I have sunk into deep mud. My feet can’t touch the bottom! I have entered deep water; the flood has swept me up. I am tired of crying. My throat is hoarse. My eyes are done with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:1-3; context)

…Filling Up…

The fourth word that we say quite often when we talk about the Bible is “Psalm.” The 150 psalms in the Hebrew Scriptures account for some truly exquisite, gritty, jubilant, despairing, and whimsical poetry. The whole gamut of human emotion runs throughout the psalms. The “psalter” (book of psalms) is one of the greatest human achievements of all times, not to mention being the most complete compendium of human encounter with God in one compiled source.

All that being said, you can’t really take the book of Psalms all at once. It’s too big. (Unless you’re a medieval monk who recited the whole thing everyday. The whole thing. Every day. Wow.) Whoever compiled the Psalms must have known this because the book breaks down into five large sections, each ending with special verses praising God.

You can further break the psalms into two main categories: praise and lament. Just by the numbers, there are more verses of lament than praise in the book of Psalms, but in church we read more of the verses of praise. You can explain this with the simple assertion that we’d rather be happy than sad. The problem here is this: when we censor a book like the Psalms, we remove from it the example it gives us of how to grieve or to be angry in the midst of prayer to God. We sweep under the rug the scriptural instances in which people made themselves vulnerable to God, accused God of negligence, wept in God’s presence, and disclosed their inability to praise God in the current moment. I’d be willing to bet each of us has felt this way at some point. Reading the lament psalms can help us cope in these times.

So the next time you are so joyful you can’t contain it, go read the psalms and find a reflection of your joy. And the next time you are so sad that you don’t think you’ll ever recover, go read the psalms and find a reflection of your grief. Lift up both your joy and sadness to God, who encompasses all in all.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are with me even when I’m not with you. Help me to remain in relationship with you even when things aren’t going so well. Help me stick with you when I want to run away. Be my constant in a changing world. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, endeavoring to learn more about you, learn more from you, and learn the best ways to be your child in this world.

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