Psalm 29: Holy Attire

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

February 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 29 which describes the settling of peace over an ended storm.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
    the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
    the voice of the LORD is majestic. 

Psalm 29:3

This gift of peace invites the psalmist to give glory to the Lord, and to do so in a celebratory manner:

Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
    adore the LORD in holy attire. 

Psalm 29:4

Reading this little verse this morning, I was reminded of my novitiate days.  What a profound joy and thrill it was for me to receive the habit of the Sisters of Mercy. I count myself fortunate to have entered just in time to wear the original habit – just for fourteen months before we adopted a modified style.

Each morning as we dressed, we said a specific prayer over each component of the habit. The prayers were beautiful and served to orient us to the duties and blessings of the day.


Psalm 29 reminds us to give thanks for our blessings – and our challenges – as we begin and end each day. But it specifically says that we should clothe ourselves in “holy attire” as we pray. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul describes such attire:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, 
clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, 
Kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 
Bear with one another 
and forgive any complaint
you may have against another. 
Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. 
And over all these virtues put on love, 
which is the bond of perfect unity. 
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, 
for to this you were called as members of one body. 
And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12-15

Poem: She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

May we walk, attired in the beauty of God’s Grace and peace.

She walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 
And all that’s best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 
Thus mellowed to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
Had half impaired the nameless grace 
Which waves in every raven tress, 
Or softly lightens o’er her face; 
Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent!

Music: Because You Are Chosen – John Michael Talbot

Because you are chosen
Called to be holy
Because you are the Lord’s beloved
You must clothe yourself with kindness
With heartfelt mercy
In the meekness of humility
So bear you now with one another
And forgive as the Lord’s forgiven you
Over all these virtues
Bind them all together
In the Love of our Lord Jesus
Over all these virtues
Bind them all together
In the Love of our Lord Jesus
Over all these virtues
Bind them all together
In the Love of our Lord Jesus.

Psalm 50: Love Bears Sacrifice

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

February 15, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50, set as a scene from a court proceeding. That seems rather appropriate after watching the impeachment proceedings, doesn’t it!

Psalm 50 is written to evoke the imagery of trial in which God calls all Creation as witnesses.

God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Psalm 50: 1

God expresses displeasure to the people about two specific things.

  1. The substance of their sacrifices:

Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;
fulfill your vows to the Most High.
Then call on me on the day of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.

Psalm 50: 15-16

2. Their blatant hypocrisy:

But to the wicked God says:
“Why do you recite my commandments
and profess my covenant with your mouth?
You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!

Psalm 50: 17-18

in judgement, God requires a conversion in the people:

Now understand this, you who forget God,
lest I start ripping apart and there be no rescuer.

Psalm 50:23

The psalm’s imagery was no doubt effective for its first listeners because they, like us, had witnessed many a court proceeding that was all about “law” but very little about justice. They recognized hypocrisy clothed in pretense, even in themselves.

God, on the other hand speaks clearly about truth and justice:

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me;
I will let him whose way is steadfast
look upon the salvation of God.

Psalm 50: 24

Praise is the prayer of a humble, aware, truthful, and obedient spirit. Our Gospel verse instructs us that we learn how to offer a sacrifice of praise by living in the pattern of Jesus:

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Poetry: Praise Song for the Day by ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
hey would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Music: Total Praise – Richard Smallwood

I just love this hymn and this choir!

Lord, I will lift my eyes to the hills
Knowing my help is coming from You
Your peace You give me in time of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen

Psalm 32: You’re Lovable

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 32 in which the psalmist expresses joy at being delivered from great suffering.

On this Valentines Day, our culture incentivizes us to think about “love”.

But our psalm might ask us to ponder that the greatest suffering is to believe, quite falsely, that we are unloved – or worse, unloveable. Still, Psalm 32 assures us that we are never unloveable to our God:

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
    and you took away the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32

One of the reasons we are drawn to love
is that the Beloved delivers us from “trouble”,
brings us light, peace, comfort, hope, courage.
The true Beloved allows us
to see ourselves as beloved too.
And we respond in love!

On this Valentines Day, you may have many dear human hearts to whom you wish to tell your love. But most important, in your prayer, tell the One Who is Love within you. And listen to Love telling you the same.

Poem: Bridges – Marion Strober


Music: Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel

Psalm 90: A Most Beautiful Prayer

Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February 13, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 90, one of my favorites.

The psalm is so rich that it really needs no help to engage our prayer. But if you would like to pray with these, here are links to earlier reflections on Psalm 90.


Or, you might instead, wish to pray simply with the beautiful transliteration below and/or with one of these lovely pieces of music.

Poetry: Psalm 90 Life and Death - Christine Robinson
We have come out of the Earth
and to the Earth we return
Our lives are but a flash in the light of Eternity.
We are like beautiful flowers which live only a day.
We might live 70 years—more if our strength holds.
So much work and hardship!
How quickly the time passes.
Teach us then, to value our days
to treat each one as a sacred trust.
Fill our hearts with wisdom.
and a love for our lives.
In spite of all the grief and suffering
May we be always glad of this precious gift
And hallow the good in each day.

Music: Two selections today

  1. In Every Age: Janèt Sullivan Whitaker 
Long before the mountains came to be
And the land and sea and stars of the night,
Through the endless seasons of all time,
You have always been,
You will always be.
In ev'ry age, O God, you have been our refuge.
In ev'ry age, O God, you have been our hope.
Destiny is cast, and at your silent word
We return to dust and scatter to the wind.
A thousand years are like a single moment gone,
As the light that fades
At the end of day.
Teach us to make use of the time we have.
Teach us to be patient even as we wait.
Teach us to embrace our ev'ry joy and pain.
To sleep peacefully,
And to rise up strong.
You have been our refuge
You have been our hope.

2. Psalm 90: Marty Goetz

Psalm 32: Forgiveness

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 32, a classic penitential psalm.

It is an uncomplicated description of repentance and forgiveness which, nevertheless, discloses profound insights into the human spirit.

Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed the one to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
    in whose spirit there is no guile. 

Psalm 32:1-2

This relational sequence of confession and forgiveness is probed in depth in Psalm 32 (where) the speaker describes his silence and his consequent bodily disability (vv. 3–4). One can observe in the psalm an inchoate theory of repression that became definitive for Sigmund Freud. Repression immobilizes, says the psalmist! The abrupt move in verse 5 concerns the process of making his sin known, saying it aloud, confessing it.

It is confession that makes forgiveness possible. It is denial that precludes assurance and that immobilizes the perpetrator.

Walter Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

Praying with Psalm 32 this morning reminded me of a story I wrote a few years ago.

The Earring

Young Emma, skewered by indecision, had stared into her mother’s jewelry box. She had always loved those silver earrings, a gift to her mother from her grandmother—an heirloom now, a treasure beyond price. She wanted so to wear them on this special date, but they were “hands off” and she knew it. Still, her mother at work and unaware of her desire, Emma had succumbed to temptation.

The dance had been wonderful, a whirlwind of such delight that Emma had not noticed when her left earring had brushed against her partner’s shoulder, tumbling hopelessly under the dancers’ trampling feet. Only at evening’s end, approaching her front door exhausted and dreamy, had she reached up to unclip the precious gems.

Her mother sat waiting for her in the soft lamplight, having already noticed the earrings missing from her dresser. Awaiting retribution, Emma knelt beside her mother and confessed the further sacrilege of loss. But her mother simply cupped Emma’s tearful face in her hands, whispering, “You are my jewel. Of course I forgive you.”  Though accustomed to her mother’s kindness, this act of compassion astonished Emma, filling her with an indescribable, transformative gratitude.

As we pray Psalm 32, there may be a great forgiveness we are thankful for, or just the small kindnesses that allow us to rise each morning with joy and hope. Perhaps there is a memory of compassion, like Emma’s, that we treasure—one that in turn has made us kinder and more honest.

But maybe, on the other hand, there is a “lost earring”, never acknowledged. With time, that unacknowledgement burrows deeper into the spirit restricting our capacity to love.

Psalm 32 reminds us that God is our Mother waiting in the lamplight to cup our face with love, to receive our joyful thanks for divine mercies. 

For this shall every faithful soul pray to you 
    in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
    they shall not reach us. 

Psalm 32:6

Like Emma, we may be astonished at the graciousness that has been given to us. We may respond by pouring out our thanks to God in a silent act of prayer.

May we also have the courage to become like our merciful God, anticipating the other’s need for our forgiveness. May we seek the strength not to harbor injury, but too release it to make room for further grace in our hearts.


Poetry: FIRST FORGIVENESS - Irene Zimmerman
The usually mild evening breeze
became a wailing wind
when the gates clanged shut behind them. 
They shivered despite their leathery clothes
as they searched for the fragrant blossoms
they’d grown accustomed to sleep on,
but found only serpentine coils
that bit and drew blood from their hands. It was Eve who discovered the cave.
When she emerged, she saw Adam
standing uncertainly at the entrance. A river of fire flooded her face
as she remembered his blaming words—
“The woman you gave me,
she gave me fruit from the tree,
and I ate.”

“Spend the night wherever you choose,”
she told him bitterly.
“You needn’t stay with me.” Long afterwards, when even the moon’s
cold light had left the entrance
and she’d made up a word
for the hot rain running from her eyes,
she sensed Adam near her in the dark. His breath shivered on her face.
“Eve,” he moaned,
“I’m sorry. Forgive me.” In the darkness between them
the unfamiliar words
waited, quivering.
She understood their meaning
when she touched his tears.

Music: Father, I Have Sinned – Eugene O’Reilly

Our story above was about a “prodigal daughter”. Our music is about a “prodigal son”.

Psalm 128: Fear?

Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February 11, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 128 which some describe as a blueprint for a happy home.

Happy are they all who fear the Lord, 
and who follow in the ways of God!
You shall eat the fruit of your labor;
happiness and prosperity shall be yours.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine 
within your house, 
your children like olive shoots 
round about your table.

Psalm 128, Canadian Inclusive Psalter

As lovely as it is, this interpretation may be overly simple. 


Psalm 128, written in the post-exilic period, is the people’s song of gratitude for the chance to return to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity.

For Israel, the captivity was the result of their faithlessness to their covenant with God. The core sentiment of the psalm is awareness, repentance, and conviction to live life more intentionally – to live in fear of the Lord and thus preserve oneself from future calamity:

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
    who walk in the Lord’s ways!


For us, that word “fear” is a tough one. It seems to contradict our desired relationship with the God who is Love, the God we have met in the person of Jesus Christ. How do we reconcile the contradiction?

Proverbs tells us this:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

So this “fear” is significantly different from the emotion we might feel when, for example, we hear an unfamiliar noise in our darkened house.

Thus the ‘fear of the Lord’ is a relational term signifying the Israelites’ response to God’s grace displayed in salvation (especially the Exodus). As Walter Brueggemann has aptly written, it means: to take God with utmost seriousness as the premise and perspective from which life is to be discerned and lived. That ‘utmost seriousness’ requires attentiveness to some things rather than others, to spend one’s energies in response to this God who has initiated our life.

Mark J. Boda, Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College

This, in fact, is the rich sentiment underlying Psalm 128, and that will yield the security of an intimate relationship with God

May the LORD bless you from Zion;
may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity
all the days of your life,
and live to see your children’s children.
Peace upon Israel!

Psalm 128: 4-5
…as our life unfolds in God’s grace.

The psalmist’s “fear” might be more akin to awe, reverence, glad obedience to our God who loves us and wills our good. It is a virtue rooted in our search for a holy awe and wisdom as our life unfolds in God’s Grace:

Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, says we live in a technological society that has grossly confused knowledge and wisdom. He says wisdom is the mystery, held by God, about how and why life works…how creation holds together…and how human reason has its limits. Wisdom is God’s secret and even our bold Enlightenment expectations barely lay a finger on that secret. Wisdom involves recognizing limits before the mystery of God. Knowledge has to do with control, says Brueggemann. Wisdom has to do with awe.

William M. Klein, Pastor, Lexington Presbyterian Church

Poem: I Am Bending My Knee
Originally from the Carmina Gadelica I, 3. Taken from Esther de Waal, editor, The Celtic Vision (Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1988, 2001), p. 7.

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.
Through Thine own Anointed One, O God,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need,
Love towards God,
The affection of God,
The smile of God,
The wisdom of God,
The grace of God,
The fear of God,
And the will of God
To do on the world of the Three,
As angels and saints
Do in heaven;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each time in kindness,
Give Thou us Thy Spirit.

Music: The Fear of the Lord – First Baptist Dallas (Wow! How about this music ministry!)

Gospel Verse: Truth

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin

February 10, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we once again meet Psalm 104. Since we have had a very recent reflection on this psalm, we might instead like to reflect on our Gospel verse for today:

“Truth”, which would appear to be an evident reality, is in fact quite elusive. In his master work Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas writes extensively, and some might say exhaustively 🧐, in an effort to define truth.

For this reason truth is defined by
the conformity of intellect and thing;
and hence to know this conformity is to know truth.


Reflecting on the concept of Truth today, I remember Jesus’s self-description:

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. 
No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6

By journeying through life with Jesus, we come to comprehend truth more clearly – both the truth around us and the truth within us. It is an unfolding which brings us ever closer to God’s complete imagination for us when we were created.

It is as if God’s fingerprint, first poured into on souls at our conception, becomes ever clearer in our lives. Let us pray each day to be consecrated in that Truth.

Poetry: truth by Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

Music: Heaven’s Window – Peter Kater (Angels of Hope)

Psalm 8: God’s Handiwork

Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8 which, in keeping with our first reading from Genesis, describes our Creator God in terms we can humanly understand.

I have always thought of these verses as the “Psalm of the Knitting God” who weaves the cloth of Creation to clothe us:

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What are we that you should be mindful of us ,
    or that you should care for us?

Psalm 8:4

As beautiful as its images are, Psalm 8 contains a challenging verse which some, over time, have interpreted to support human domination of all creation:

You have made humans little less than the angels,
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands,
    putting all things under their feet.

Psalm 8:6-7

Elephant Trophy Hunting

The verse has been manipulated to justify an attitude of supremacy rather than unity and cooperation with nature. That misinterpretation supports such activities as uncontrolled extraction mining, land seizure, trophy hunting and many other forms of natural exploitation.

More recent theology has helped to understand our role in Creation in a humbler, truer light, as stated in the introduction to Laudato Sí:


LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.

This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.


To prepare for prayer this morning, I reflected on “The Way of Beauty”, Stations of the Cross composed by Gilbert Choondal, SDB, a Salesian Priest of Don Bosco. He holds a PhD in Catechetics and Youth Ministry from the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. Presently he is the president of the Indian Catechetical Association.
You may find these prayerful reflections helpful, especially as we approach the season of Lent. (You may have to double-click the picture of the Good Shepherd to make the document come up.)


Poetry: Hovering – Joseph Stroud

(for Tom Marshall)
Tom and I are walking Last Chance Road
down from the mountain where we had been
hunting mushrooms under a stand of coast oaks,
walking down and looking out to the Pacific
shimmering in the late fall sun, the light
on the surface like glittering flakes of mica,
when we see a white-tailed kite hovering
in the air, hovering over a green pasture,
hovering over the day, over the two of us,
our very lives hovering as well, there
on the California coast, in the fall, in the sun,
on our way home, with a sack of chanterelles,
with our love for this world, with so much time,
and so little time—all of it—hovering—
and hovering still.


Music: Take Care of the Planet – a delightful reminder from Australia🤗

Psalm 104: Beautiful Creator

Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, February 8, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 104, a lyrical hymn of praise for the wonders of Creation. As I write this morning, an ermine snow coats the evergreens in soft white feathers. There is a quiet whisper in the trees, like God might make while sleeping

To prepare for prayer, I turn to my favorite theologian who writes extensively about Psalm 104 in his book, From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms.

I have outlined my reading here for those who might like to approach Psalm 104 from Brueggemann’s perspective. If you benefit from his work, I highly recommend his book:

From Walter Brueggemann:

Psalm 104 divides roughly into two parts. The first part (vv. 1–24) provides an inventory of the components of creation, framed by a doxological formula. I suggest that inventory framed by doxology (praise prayer) is a good way to begin our thinking about creation.


In the second half of the poem, verses 25–35, we are offered four themes that may serve as reference points as we trace the paradigmatic power and significance of creation:

  1. Creation and Chaos
    These verses attest to the reliable, generative ordering of creation that makes use of all available creaturely possibilities.

There is the sea, great and wide!
It teems with countless beings,
living things both large and small.
There ships ply their course
and Leviathan,* whom you formed to play with.

Psalm 104: 25-26
  1. Creation and Provision

The creator “gives, gives, opens”; the creatures “gather, receive, eat,” and “are filled.” This transaction between the giver and the recipients is endless, reliable, and necessary. The creatures are always on the receiving end of the generous giving of the creator.

These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
when you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are filled with good things.

Psalm 104: 27-28
  1. Creation and Ruach

“Rauch” is a Hebrew word which images God as a breath, a wind, or a life force that sustains all living things, human beings included. in Psalm 104, “rauch” describes God’s generous, life-initiating, life-sustaining gift of vitality without which no creature can live:

When you hide your face, they panic.
Take away their breath, they perish
and return to the dust.
Send forth your spirit, they are created
and you renew the face of the earth.

Psalm 104: 29-30
  1. Creation and Righteous Judgement 

Righteousness is glad acceptance of the good ordering of reality given and guaranteed by the creator, an ordering that culminates in confident Sabbath from all our destructive drives for self-worth.

May sinners vanish from the earth,
and the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, my soul! Hallelujah!

Psalm 104: 35

My humble prayer, wrought in light of Brueggemann’s elegant theology is this:

I praise and thank You, God, for the wonder of Creation.
I am in awe of your Power to order all things toward Beauty.
From that balance of beauty and power,
you offer me the joys and challenges of life.
You sustain and nourish me, even in the overwhelming times.
I want to respond fully and gratefully
to your creative power in my life and in our world.
Please give me clarity and courage
to live within your life-giving creative Grace.

Amen


Poetry: The Creation by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)


And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely—
I’ll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

Then God himself stepped down—

And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas—
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed—
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled—
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

Music: Creation Song – Fernando Ortega

Psalm 147: Brokenhearted?

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, February 7, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147 which invites us to:

Praise the LORD, for he is good;
    sing praise to our God, Who is gracious;
    Whom it is fitting to praise.

It is a psalm for the left-brained who, like Job in our first reading, might need some explanation about just why we should praise when life seems so unpraiseworthy at times!

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
    Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
    a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
    and troubled nights have been allotted to me.

Job 7: 1-4

Job, like many of us when we suffer, feels crushed under life’s burdens. However, an extended reading of the Book of Job reveals that humility and repentance allow Job to “see God”, and to rediscover the richness and flavor of his life.

Calling us to the same kind of awareness, Psalm 147 presents a series of reasons for praising God, including God’s continual attention to the city of Jerusalem, to brokenhearted and injured individuals, to the cosmos, and to nature.

For me, the most moving of these reasons comes in verse 3:

The Lord heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
The Lord tells the number of the stars;
    calling each by name.


This is a beautiful picture of our infinitely compassionate God who is able to recognize our broken-heartedness. 

This loving God, who knows the stars by name, knows us as well. We, like Job, begin to heal within the divine lullaby God patiently sings over our broken hearts.

Jesus is that Healing Song, the Word hummed over the world by the merciful Creator. In today’s Gospel, we see that Melody poured out over the suffering:

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Mark 1: 32-34

As we pray today,

let us hear God’s song of mercy
being sung over all Creation.
Let us rest our own brokenness
there in its compassionate chords.
Let us bring the world’s pain to our prayer.

Poetry: A Cure Of Souls by Denise Levertov

The pastor
of grief and dreams
guides his flock towards
the next field
with all his care.
He has heard
the bell tolling
but the sheep
are hungry and need
the grass, today and
every day. Beautiful
his patience, his long
shadow, the rippling
sound of the flocks moving
along the valley.

Music: God Heals My Broken Heart – Patty Felker

If Job were singing his sadness today, it might sound like this song.