Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 25, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118.

 “This psalm is centered on God, in a movement that expresses gratitude, admiration, joy and praise. In the King James Version, the Lord is mentioned in almost every verse.” (Wikipedia)

Give thanks to the LORD who is good,
    whose mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in princes.

Psalm 118: 1, 8-9

Following our first reading today, the psalm focuses me on God’s Name – often “Lord”, as in the psalm – but also so many other Names of God from the riches of scripture and tradition.

… in the Name of Jesus, this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
    which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.

Acts 4: 10-12

The fact that we have so many names for God reminds me of how accommodating God is to my need as I pray. 

One day I need “My Rock”.

Another day I delight in “My Dayspring”.

As I wake up each morning and allow the day to embrace me, I often greet God with a special name, depending on the mood and circumstances of my heart:

  • Good morning, Beautiful Light. Take any darkness from our world this day.
  • I greet You, Sweet Lord. Thank you for the delicious gift of life.
  • Cloudy God, you have been hiding from me. Bring me into your Sunshine today.
  • God, my Strong Shoulder, stand by me today.
  • Chilly God, seeming to ignore my prayer, unfreeze my spirit to hear your answer.

Jesus invites us to pray with images that speak to our hearts. In our Gospel, He names himself a Shepherd, an image so accessible to his agrarian listeners, and which said it all without the need for theology!

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11

As we pray today, within what image is God coming to us? May we let the Holy One speak a sanctifying and special Name over us in our prayer. May it free us just as it freed the man healed in today’s passage from Acts.


Poetry: Six Recognitions of the Lord – Mary Oliver

1.

I know a lot of fancy words.

I tear them from my heart and my tongue.

Then I pray…..

3
I lounge on the grass, that’s all. So
simple. Then I lie back until I am
inside the cloud that is just above me
but very high, and shaped like a fish.
Or, perhaps not. Then I enter the place
of not-thinking, not-remembering, not-
wanting. When the blue jay cries out his
riddle, in his carping voice, I return.
But I go back, the threshold is always
near. Over and back, over and back. Then
I rise. Maybe I rub my face as though I
have been asleep. But I have not been
asleep. I have been, as I say, inside
the cloud, or, perhaps, the lily floating
on the water. Then I go back to town
to my own house, my own life, which has
now become brighter and simpler, some-where I have never been before….

4.

Of course I have always known you

Are present in the clouds, and the

Black oak I especially adore, and the

Wings of birds. But you are present

Too in the body, listening to the body,

Teaching it to live, instead of all

That touching, with disembodied joy.

We do not do this easily….



6.

Every summer the lilies rise
and open their white hands until they almost
cover the black waters of the pond. And I give
thanks but it does not seem like adequate thanks,
it doesn’t seem
festive enough or constant enough, nor does the
name of the Lord or the words of thanksgiving come
into it often enough Everywhere I go I am
treated like royalty, which I am not. I thirst and
am given water. My eyes thirst and I am given
the white lilies on the black water. My heart
sings but the apparatus of singing doesn’t convey
half what it feels and means. In spring there’s hope,
in fall the exquisite, necessary diminishing, in
winter I am as sleepy as any beast in its
leafy cave, but in summer there is
everywhere the luminous sprawl of gifts,
the hospitality of the Lord and my
inadequate answers as I row my beautiful, temporary body
through this water-lily world.


Music: Two Songs for today

Kyrie – Michael Hoppé

Kyrie Eleison
Lord, have Mercy


For those who might want to take it up a notch:
Kyrie – Mr. Mister

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