Psalm 23: Awake to the Feast

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

December 2, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23. On this first Wednesday of Advent, our psalm is set between two eloquent readings about the full satisfaction of our soul’s hungers.

Isaiah blesses us with his metaphor for Heaven’s abundance, when our souls will be filled to a divine capacity of grace.

In a world already redeemed, Isaiah’s vision has been fulfilled. We live our lives already seated at the banquet he describes.

But do we realize it? Do we partake every moment in the outpouring of grace given us by our Baptism into Christ?

Unaware, many of us sit at the table starving.

In our Gospel, Jesus sees the deeper hungers of the fatigued crowd. His miracle feeds their bodies but, more importantly, awakens their souls to see him as the fulfillment of God’s promise. Isaiah’s prophecy is accomplished in Jesus:

On that day it will be said:
Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Isaiah 26:9-10

As we read Psalm 23 today, let’s allow its consoling verses to become our prayer of trust and gratitude for God’s “already presence” in our lives. Like the crowd awakened by Jesus’s miracle, let us open our eyes to the infinite grace spread before us, though wrapped sometimes in the mundane circumstances of our lives.


Poetry: Joy Harjo – Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Music: Psalm 23 – Stuart Townend

Psalm 72: Justice Shall Flower

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

December 1, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 72 which sings with Advent expectation and hope. How beautiful to hear its tones once again and to realize that God has carried us through another year.

With Psalm 72, God tells us it is time to begin again – and this time, because of all the past year has taught us, to more fully abandon our hearts to the fidelity God promises. 

Our God and King comes eternally to us
in new waves of revelation.
God’s faithful promise continues
for whatever the coming year unfolds.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Psalm 72: 1-2

Our psalm invites us to see Creation as God sees it, an eternal relationship which endures in peace even beyond the moon’s final setting. That eternal promise brings profound peace. God, who is Infinite Mercy, loves us beyond boundaries, beyond circumstance, beyond time.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Psalm 72: 7-8

Jesus is the Promise Fulfilled. In him, Infinite Mercy enfleshes justice for the humble and poor.

He shall rescue the poor one who cries out,
and the afflicted when there is no one to help.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.

Psalm 72: 12-13

Advent patiently teaches us to recognize such salvation and peace. It is not revealed in miracles, but rather in the enduring power of hope, trust and gratitude. Jesus is our salvation and peace. The cyclic retelling of his life, death and resurrection invites us to deepen our own journey once again this Advent.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Psalm 72: 17

Poetry: Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams, a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012.

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Music: O Come, Divine Messiah
Words: Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin, 1663-1745
English Translation of French Carol “Venez Divin Messie”
Translator: Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND
Melody: 16th Century French Carol

The English translation of “Venez, divin Messie” beginning “O come, divine Messiah” is by Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND, the name in religion of Mary Frances Lescher (1825-1904). She was one of the first English members of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when they established their training college at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool, England, in about 1850. She and at least one other SND sister wrote both translations and original hymns and songs over the course of their long professional lives.

from John Uhrig’s letter to Douglas D. Anderson, Founder of the website “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas”

Psalm 19: God’s Two Great Books

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2020


My niece Maureen took this picture at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 which, according to the famous Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, is “the study of God’s two great books—nature and Scripture”.

The verses chosen for today’s Responsorial focus on the Law as we receive it in the words of Scripture.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

Psalm 19:8

St. Andrew, whose feast we celebrate today, was a simple fisherman made wise by the Living Word of God. He received the Gospel as it was first uttered in the life and preaching of his dear friend Jesus.

DUCCIO DI BUONINSEGNA
The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, 1308-1311

Andrew decided to retell that precious Word in his own life and preaching.

He joyfully accepted the call to radical discipleship, allowing his inner vision to be enlightened by the Christ’s vision for the world.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

Psalm 19: 9

Andrew’s whole life and death gave witness to his total investment in God’s Word. That apostolic commitment sweetened not only Andrew’s life, but the life of the whole faith community to whom he transmitted the Living Word… including us.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.

Psalm 19: 10;11

Let’s pray this Psalm today
with a simplicity and faith like Andrew’s.


Prayer: from daily-prayers.org

O Glorious St. Andrew,
you were the first to recognize and follow the Son of God.
With your friend, St. John,
you remained with Jesus,
for your entire life,
and now throughout eternity.
Just as you led your brother, St Peter,
to Christ and many others after him,
draw us also to Him.
Teach us how to lead them,
solely out of love for Jesus
and dedication to His service.
Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross
and carry our daily crosses without complaint,
so that they may carry us to God the Almighty Father. Amen.

Music: from Bach – Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76

 Chor

Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, 

und die Feste verkündiget seiner Hände Werk. 

Es ist keine Sprache noch Rede, 

da man nicht ihre Stimme höre.

(Psalm 19:2,4)

Chorus

The heavens declare the glory of God, 

and the firmament shows His handiwork. 

There is no speech or language, 

since one does not hear their voices.

Psalm 80: Advent Turns Us Toward God

The First Sunday of Advent
November 29,2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, an urgent call to a God from whom the psalmist has turned away.

How do we get to the point that we are turned away from God? And how do we correct that? Well, that’s what Advent is all about, and our psalm today gives us some hints about a remedy.


First: Disconnection 

Sometimes with God, as with any relationship, we simply get disconnected. It’s as if the the phone lines go down and we don’t bother to fix them.

We pray less – well, you know, because we’re busy, right?

We lose the “holy intention” in our lives to always be with God and for God, even in our choices and actions.

Advent helps us remember that such “holy intention” can only be charged by our connection to God. Advent turns us to call that Power into our lives.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.


Second: Confusion 

Other times, we are confused about our soul’s intimate relationship with God. We haven’t forgotten it. Actually, we work very hard to be what we think God wants. We, like a satisfied Pharisee, think our “holiness” is the fruit of our own efforts. But our life in God withers, like a once beautiful plant that languishes, overwatered and scorched. For all our efforts, our souls feel empty.

Advent helps us realize that it is God who enlivens the vine and gives the blossom, not us. Advent turns us to a humble, hopeful waiting for grace as God desires to give it.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.


Third: Withdrawal 

Our psalm recognizes that, at times, we withdraw from God. Perhaps we tire of working at our spiritual life. Or we weary when our works of mercy go unappreciated. Or we fail to find God’s Presence in a prayer that seems unanswered.

Advent helps us see that God is never the one who withdraws from the work of love. We do.

Advent turns us to new life by the simple calling of the Name that never fails to answer.

May your help be with the creature of your right hand,
with the beloved whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

As we begin this Advent journey
that can so deepen us in grace and love,
let us humbly place in God’s hands
anything in our lives that needs “turning”.

Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.


Poetry: Tagore – THE INFINITY OF YOUR LOVE

Stand before my eyes, 
and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame.

Stand among Your stars, 
and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship.

The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside.
Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, 
and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation.

Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; 
fill her cup of solitude, 
and let me turn my heart toward the infinity of Your love.

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me

Psalm 95: Advent’s Threshold

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 28, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95. As we pray its laudatory verses, we are invited to stand on the very threshold of Advent.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into the Lord’s presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to our God.


Even though the pre-dawn sky seems essentially unchanged, we can sense the First Light waiting to spring over the horizon. And, oh, how we long for it! How we need it to illuminate the shadows of this pandemic year, to warm the long cold of separation and loss, to fill the stunned silence of our hearts with a new rising song!

For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
God holds the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains
like jewels in a loving hand.
God made and owns the sea
and the dry land, forming them from the Divine Imagination!


We join the whole Church as we pray today’s psalm refrain:

We ask God to prepare Advent’s doors in our hearts and spirits. It is time to be renewed in faith, hope, and love. Over the coming season, God will guide us to that longed-for Light. 

So for this last pre-Advent day:

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us,
who is our God,
and we are the people Love shepherds, 
the flock Love guides.


Poetry: Advent Credo by Allan Boesak

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 2004.

Music: Threshold – Adam Hurst

Psalm 84: Dwell in God’s Heart

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 27, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 84, a praise and pilgrimage hymn. 

It is a perfect prayer for us if we have any small sense of alienation, loss, or confusion in our own pilgrimage.

And, honestly, who doesn’t!?

Even in the best of times, life can be a twist! And in pandemic times, politically charged times, economically shaky times??? Never a better time to say, “God help us!”


But Psalm 84 orients us. It announces what the journey is really about … the desire to find a resting place in God. Once we realize that, the road slowly straightens with the power of faith.

In Psalm 84, the pilgrim’s heart, hungry for God, sets out on the spiritual journey.

My soul yearns and pines 
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.

There can be a deep trust in our journeying heart because “even the sparrow” finds a home in God’s tender care.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young–
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!


The secret, though, is constancy.:

  • We pilgrims must stay with the essence of our journey – the deep desire for God.
  • We must listen to scripture’s “directions” about where God dwells – with the poor, humble, and merciful.
  • We must not let the flashy road signs of the “Me Culture” distract us.


“The Narcissism Epidemic,”
by psychologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell
studies the increase of narcissism or “me-ism” in our culture.
Here’s an excerpt:

Although these seem like a random collection of current trends, all are rooted in a single underlying shift in the American psychology: the relentless rise of narcissism in our culture. Not only are there more narcissists than ever, but non-narcissistic people are seduced by the increasing emphasis on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. Standards have shifted, sucking otherwise humble people into the vortex of granite countertops, tricked-out MySpace pages, and plastic surgery. A popular dance track repeats the words “money, success, fame, glamour” over and over, declaring that all other values have “either been discredited or destroyed.”


Let’s pray today for “staying power”. We have been given the grace to seek God in our lives. Let’s dwell in that seeking, moving from strength to strength in any twists life tosses in front of us.

Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed are we whose strength you are!
They go from strength to strength.


Poetry: The Journey – Tagore

The morning sea of silence broke into ripples of bird songs; 
and the flowers were all merry by the roadside;
and the wealth of gold was scattered through the rift of the clouds
while we busily went on our way and paid no heed.

We sang no glad songs nor played;
we went not to the village for barter;
we spoke not a word nor smiled;
we lingered not on the way.

We quickened our pace more and more as the time sped by.
The sun rose to the mid sky and doves cooed in the shade. 
Withered leaves danced and whirled in the hot air of noon.

The shepherd boy drowsed and dreamed in the shadow of the banyan tree, 
and I laid myself down by the water
and stretched my tired limbs on the grass.

My companions laughed at me in scorn;
they held their heads high and hurried on;
they never looked back nor rested;
they vanished in the distant blue haze.
They crossed many meadows and hills,
and passed through strange, far-away countries.

All honor to you, heroic host of the interminable path!
Mockery and reproach pricked me to rise, 
but found no response in me.

I gave myself up for lost
in the depth of a glad humiliation
—in the shadow of a dim delight.

The repose of the sun-embroidered green gloom 
slowly spread over my heart.
I forgot for what I had traveled,
and I surrendered my mind without struggle 
to the maze of shadows and songs.

At last, when I woke from my slumber and opened my eyes, 
I saw thee standing by me, flooding my sleep with thy smile. 
How I had feared that the path was long and wearisome, 
and the struggle to reach thee was hard!

Music: How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place – Jesuit Music

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

November 26, 2020

A blessed and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Today’s special readings for the feast are so rich and beautiful. They evoke and confirm in us a deep sense of thanksgiving as we read and pray with them today.

Let their beauty and instruction enrich your prayer as you slowly read these scriptures. You may want to speak the phrases aloud slowly, letting their wisdom flow gently over your spirit.

May you, your families, your communities
and all our precious world
be blessed in any way our spirits deeply need.
Let us give thanks
for the Lavish Mercy of God!


Thanksgiving Prayer: by Renee Yann,RSM

© ReneeYann

Music: I Will Praise Your Name (The Hand of the Lord Feeds Us)- Scott Soper

Psalm 98: Joy!

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 25, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98. If it sounds familiar as you read it today, no wonder. It looks like Mr.98 might have peeked and copied from Ms. 96 whose verses we read yesterday!🤗

Still, there are some new lovely thoughts to consider this morning as we pray just one month from Christmas. The psalm’s melodic, celebratory tone offers a welcome contrast to the other two rather daunting readings today.

Psalm 98 describes God’s redemption of Israel and the rejoicing that will ensue. It also features many expressions and instruments of music and song. The psalm’s exultant and joyful character inspired Sir Isaac Watts, in 1719, to compose an interpretation we all love: Joy to World. Watts’s poem was set to the music of George Frideric Handel.

Although this glorious song is normally preserved for Christmas, it describes the condition of grace we actually live within every day. Christ already has come into time, already has been born in our hearts.

Our liturgical year is a commemoration and celebration of a salvation already achieved.

So let’s have a bit of early Christmas today. Let’s reach for the full joy of our “Christing” by praying Psalm 98 as Isaac Watts prayed it.

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

Today is a good day, as we are about to begin our Advent journey this Sunday, to remind ourselves of exactly where that journey takes us – to the humble center of our hearts where, in every moment, God desires to take flesh for the world.


Poetry: Into the Darkest Hour by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.

Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-

and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?

Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

Music: John Rutter – The Falcon – first movement based on Psalm 98

Psalm 96: The Lord’s Triumphant Coming

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

November 24, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, a royal psalm praising God as the King of all Creation.

The psalm’s first verses, not included in today’s passage, call us to sing and dance before the King.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his marvelous deeds.

Psalm 96: 1-3

We might pray this psalm with deep consciousness of our place in Creation, in the divine handiwork of this generous King. We have been given life alongside a panoply of beautiful creatures in order that we might, together, sing God’s song.

We sing in a choir of evening stars and morning sunrises, beside choristers of great redwoods and lofty mountains. We join in the prayerful music of the rainbow of animal and human voices rising to praise God.

A dear friend posted this yesterday. I thought it was delightful.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Psalm 96: 11-12

As we continue to draw down the curtain on the final days of this liturgical year, the daily readings draw our attention to the end of time – when all God’s created munificence will be finally gathered to the Eternal Presence.

Once, on a retreat with the Wernersville Jesuits, I went to their recreation room and played a 33 1⁄3 rpm record (yes, it was that long ago!). It was Wagner’s triumphant Ride of the Valkyries. You can listen to the music by clicking below.

The music engaged my spirit and no words were needed for my prayer. I imagined a Glorious Light rising over time’s darkness, a rider on the Dawn’s steed. 

I pictured us all coming to that Light in waves of praise, one order of creation after the other, over the hills of time and into a merciful, eternal Brilliance.

Each wave rose out of any darkness, pain, or death that might have  hindered them. They broke on to God’s merciful shore and were embraced in Light.

…. the meanest souls of history first, bowing repentant before God’s forgiveness. Then one wave after another, finally coming to the most innocent, the poor and the humble. These heroes of the Beatitudes marched triumphant, their places beside God already prepared, their faces already redeemed by God’s justice

The Lord comes to rule the earth.
to rule the world with justice 
and the peoples with constancy.

Psalm 96:13

The prayer of imagination can open the heart in a way far beyond words. It does take time to place ourselves in the quiet peace that welcomes such prayer. But I think it is so worth it. Our psalm might be inviting us to that kind of prayer today.


Reflective Reading: Prayer of Imagination for Anna the Prophetess
from Twelve Women of the Chalice – Leddy Hammock and Sue K. Riley

Now, in this moment I close my outer eyes 
and look within with my inner eyes.
I see a vision of wonder,
for I am the daughter of the vision of God,
of the tribe of the blessed ones,
a soul under grace.

I judge not by appearances.
I believe in God’s promises.
I fast from shadows and I live on light.
From my youth, I have served at the temple,
a vessel to a holy purpose.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell
Here I behold the image of the Lord.

I close my eyes and behold that image,
the eyes of the Infinite beholding me
all through the ages,
so tenderly gazing with love and compassion,
enfolding me.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell.
Here, I behold the image of the Lord.

The thoughts held in mind 
are mirrored in kind all around me,
reflecting through all that I see.

Now, I behold with inner vision
the wonders that will be in the fullness of time.
The dreams of all my days and nights
are incensed in the inner sanctum.

My thoughts of truth are flowers on the altar of light.
In the presence of the Holy of Holies,
I keep the high watch.
Gifted with the inner sight,
I see beyond the present.

I am an old, old soul, yet ageless in eternity.
Though outer eyes may seem to dim with time,
the inner eyes are crystal clear.

Though outer vision may seem obscured by time and place,
or clouded by the sorrows and the slavery of sense,
another world’s revealed so clear.
And what I see will be.

My thoughts are giving form,
And held in mind, shall reproduce in kind.
O Lord, I take a long loving look at the real.
I prophesy.

Christ is here.
I have seen the Lord, Thine image, 
and held that image to my own heart.
I am the Spirit of Imagination.
I am Anna, the prophetess, woman of power.

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