Psalm 24; Your Face, Lord

Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 23, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 24, repeating its poignant refrain:

Lord, this is the people
that longs to see your face.

Longing is such a raw emotion. It is not simply a hoping for, or desiring, or waiting for – the way we wait in a car dealer’s lounge for a flat to be fixed.

Longing implies an extended emptiness, a nearly depleted hope, a degree of desperation.

We long for a slaked thirst, a satisfied hunger, a final peace. When we long for something, we have been bereft of it for an unrelieved, even torturous time. We keep asking ourselves how and where we will find comfort.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

Psalm 24: 3-4

An image comes to mind of a fussy, colicky baby left temporarily in the care of someone other than his parents. He tosses in his little crib. He doesn’t want to eat or sleep. He cries and won’t be stilled by the stranger’s gentlest lullaby. He yearns for his mother’s breast, his father’s voice. He longs to be near the flesh from whence he came.

We are not unlike that little restless baby. There are days, perhaps many, when we feel like our Creator has left us for a while. The world, with all its upsets, seems alien and discomforting. We are wrapped in varying tides of fear, confusion, loss and exhaustion.

We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with us, so we don’t know how to fix it. We just know we need something more to ease our soul’s irritation.

If we could only see God’s Face in the midst of our circumstances – hear God’s voice, feed our spirits on God’s nurture, listen to God’s song in our deepest hearts! If we could only be steadied by the One from whose Spirit we are made!

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For the Lord founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Psalm 24: 5-6

These are the themes emphasized in our scriptures as the liturgical year ends and we move closer to the great ritualized yearning of Advent. The whole Church joins in an Advent cry like that of Psalm 84:

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

As we pray with these thoughts today, let us place our deep longing before God. Let’s ask God what we need to do to know God’s always faithful presence in our lives and to rest confidently in that knowledge.

Poetry: The Divine Image by William Blake
In this poem, Blake speaks of finding God in all Creation. We see the poet confronting early 19th century unchristian prejudices, many of which unfortunately still need confrontation today.

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love 
All pray in their distress; 
And to these virtues of delight 
Return their thankfulness. 

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love 
Is God, our father dear, 
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love 
Is Man, his child and care. 

For Mercy has a human heart, 
Pity a human face, 
And Love, the human form divine, 
And Peace, the human dress. 

Then every man, of every clime, 
That prays in his distress, 
Prays to the human form divine, 
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace. 

And all must love the human form, 
In heathen, Turk, or Jew; 
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell 
There God is dwelling too. 

Music: When We See Your Face – Sovereign Grace Music

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