Psalms 42 and 43
1 Kings 19:1-15
Luke 8: 26-39
Summer officially arrives this week, with the Summer Solstice making this Friday the longest day of the year. At Noon on Friday, the sun will appear as high in our sky as it ever gets. Don’t strain your neck, or your eyes, looking at it!
Summertime, for many people in our culture, is a time of kicking back and relaxing. We all need a fair dose of that. But we can choose to take advantage of the change of pace— perhaps retreating into a cool place for a siesta ?— to catch up with some things we know we ought to do, but we don’t... when the world is calling us to be busy, busy, busy.
One such opportunity— to do something we know we should— is the exercise session now happening at the church, each Tuesday and Thursday at 6 PM. The exercises are gentle, and we are instructed to hold back from going too far in any direction that brings pain. So far, we’ve met three times, and it’s been pleasant. We know it’s good for our bodies. Research supports the notion that a healthy body is good for our minds, as well.
And then there are our spirits.
If you are going somewhere “away” this Summer, you are probably planning leisure activities such as sightseeing, shopping, hanging out on the beach or the river, and the like. Consider planning where you will go for worship, as well. The internet gives us ample resources to check out the options. At our worship service in Elk Run Cemetery in May, we were blessed by the visit of a couple on their honeymoon! They had located our church building online, and when they got there and found us “out,” they tracked us down to Elk Run! How far would YOU go to worship God while you’re “away” ?
Also for our spirits: opportunities to read and dig deeper to understand your Bible and grow your relationship with God through prayer. Most Thursdays, we have Bible study at Journeys Crossing. Not only do we spend time in the Bible: we listen to one another and draw closer as friends and neighbors. Then on most Sunday evenings, we have Bible study at church. Currently, we are finishing up reading through the book of Isaiah. It gives us a wealth of food for discussion and growth.
And each week, we publish the Scripture lessons that will be featured in our Sunday worship service.
You can look them up and read them at your “leisure.”
Now that we are in the part of the Church Year called “ordinary time,” we will get back to this year’s main source of gospel lessons: Luke. From other New Testament writings, we will read in Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Philemon (it’s short!!), 1 and 2 Timothy, and we’ll end the church year by reading in 2 Thessalonians. This year, for our “ordinary time” Old Testament readings, we will start in the books of Kings before wandering through several of the Minor Prophets and spending significant time with “the weeping prophet” Jeremiah, including the Book of Lamentations which is connected to him.
Our Psalms (42 and 43) this week probably originally were one psalm, but somehow got assigned two separate numbers along the centuries of hand-copying. It is mostly a song of lament— of upset and sorrow in a world where things are not going as we want them to.
Here is Psalm 42: 3 & 9:
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
I say to God, my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
Lament: we have permission to hold our troubles before God and demand answers.
This week, I found an interview that acclaimed Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann gave to the radio program, On Being in December, 2011.
He said, “at least one-third of the Book of Psalms are songs or prayers of sadness and loss and grief and upset, so that very much the Old Testament experience of faith is having stuff taken away from us. What’s so interesting is that in the institutional church with the lectionary and the liturgies, the whole business of lamentations has been screened out because….
The interviewer, Krista Tippett said, “Because we don’t know what to do with those depressing passages.” And she laughed.
The Rev. Dr. Brueggemann replied, “Yeah, and we don’t want to. Because of consumer capitalism, you just go from triumph to triumph to well-being to ease to prosperity, and you never have any brokenness.”
Well, we’ll see about that.