April 13, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 93, a resounding song of praise to our majestic God.
As I read the whole psalm, which is brief, I find myself standing at the Atlantic’s edge with my mother. I was just old enough to appreciate the enormity of the ocean. I asked Mom what made the waves stop at our tiptoes. She told me that God held it in place like soup in a big bowl. I remember being glad that God was in charge because the waves seemed awesome to me.
A little personal distraction: My grand-nephews enjoying the ever-awesome ocean
Today’s psalmist seems to share some of these young feelings:
The flood has raised up, LORD;Psalm 93:4-5
the flood has raised up its roar;
the flood has raised its pounding waves.
More powerful than the roar of many waters,
more powerful than the breakers of the sea,
powerful in the heavens is the LORD.
Set between today’s two readings, our psalm invites us to entrust ourselves completely to this all-powerful God whose merciful rule goes infinitely beyond earth’s seas.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Dear, questioning Nicodemus struggled a bit to open his heart in complete faith. But he stayed with the struggle until the power of the Resurrection transformed him.
As we pray Psalm 93, we might stand with the psalmist or with Nicodemus at the edge of any ocean which challenges, mystifies, delights or frightens us. May we grow in confidence, as they did, that our eternal, omnipotent God ever reigns with merciful love – over the vastness of Creation and the small intimate waves of our lives.
Poetry: A Hymn – Ann Brontë
Eternal power of earth and air, Unseen, yet seen in all around, Remote, but dwelling everywhere, Though silent, heard in every sound. If e'er thine ear in mercy bent When wretched mortals cried to thee, And if indeed thy Son was sent To save lost sinners such as me. Then hear me now, while kneeling here; I lift to thee my heart and eye And all my soul ascends in prayer; O give me - give me Faith I cry. Without some glimmering in my heart, I could not raise this fervent prayer; But O a stronger light impart, And in thy mercy fix it there! While Faith is with me I am blest; It turns my darkest night to day; But while I clasp it to my breast I often feel it slide away. Then cold and dark my spirit sinks, To see my light of life depart, And every fiend of Hell methinks Enjoys the anguish of my heart. What shall I do if all my love, My hopes, my toil, are cast away, And if there be no God above To hear and bless me when I pray? If this be vain delusion all, If death be an eternal sleep, And none can hear my secret call, Or see the silent tears I weep. O help me God! for thou alone Canst my distracted soul relieve; Forsake it not -- it is thine own, Though weak yet longing to believe. O drive these cruel doubts away And make me know that thou art God; A Faith that shines by night and day Will lighten every earthly load. If I believe that Jesus died And waking rose to reign above, Then surely Sorrow, Sin and Pride Must yield to peace and hope and love. And all the blessed words he said Will strength and holy joy impart, A shield of safety o'er my head, A spring of comfort in my heart.
Music: Here Is Love, Vast as an Ocean, beautifully sung by Huw Priday, first in Welsh then in English.
The text of this hymn was originally in Welsh, “Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,” written by William Rees (1802–1883, also known as Gwilym Hiraethog). By one account, Rees was “one of the most versatile and gifted Welshmen of the nineteenth century and exercised a powerful influence on politics, religion, poetry, and literature in Wales.”
Rees’ text played a prominent role in the Welsh revival of 1904–1905, led by evangelist Evan Roberts (1878–1951) of Glamorganshire. As with any great evangelistic movement, its success was closely associated with music and musicians.
Here is love vast as the ocean,
Loving-kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heav’n’s eternal days.
On the Mount of Crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the flood-gates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above;
Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
Here is love that conquered evil:
Christ, the firstborn from the grave;
Death has failed to be found equal
To the life of Him Who saves.
In the valley of our darkness
Dawned His everlasting light;
Perfect love in glorious radiance
Has repelled death’s hellish night.
That same love beyond all measure,
Mocked and slain by hateful men,
Lives and reigns in resurrection
And can never die again.
Here is love for all the ages,
Radiant Sun of Heav’n He stands,
Calling home His Father’s children,
Holding forth His wounded hands.
Here is love, vast as the heavens;
Countless as the stars above
Are the souls that He has ransomed,
Precious daughters, treasured sons.
We are called to feast forever on a love beyond our time;
Glorious Father, Son, and Spirit
Now with man are intertwined.