Psalm 96: Singing in the Rain

 Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

August 25, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96 which calls the people to praise God in music and dance because they have been chosen and confirmed as God’s People. 

The psalm may have been composed by David to mark the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. At that time, Israel had a sense of great victory, restoration, and security as David assumed kingship at God’s command.

But today’s particular verses have an eschatological tone. They turn the attention of the praise singer to the overarching fact that God is infinitely larger than any present small victory. They imply that the only true victory and restoration are found in complete abandonment to God’s power in our lives no matter our situation.

Say among the nations: The Lord is king.
God has made the world firm, not to be moved;
God governs the peoples with equity.


That Divine Power is easy enough to sing about when things go well for us, as they were for Israel at that time. But can we still praise God’s dominion and power when things seem bleak, when we don’t feel in control of our reality?

Psalm 96 invites us to that deep abandonment of self into God’s unfailing Mercy, no matter our life’s weather.

Declare among the nations: The LORD is king.
The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken.
God rules the peoples with fairness.

When we struggle to find that kind of holy equanimity, Psalm 96 suggests we look to nature, and to its persistent return to Divine Balance, even after upheaval. So too will any unbalance in us be restored within the infinite arc of God’s abiding love. And that is the real reason to always sing God’s praise!

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.

Before the Lord Who comes;
Who comes to rule the earth.
God shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with constancy.

Poetry: To Him Who Is Feared by Eleazar Ben Kalir
Translated by Lady Katie Magnus
from the Liturgy for Rosh Hashana

To Him who is feared a Crown will I bring.
Thrice Holy each day acclaim Him my King;
At altars, ye mighty, proclaim loud His praise,
And multitudes too may whisper His lays.
Ye angels, ye men, whose good deeds He records—
Sing, He is One, His is good, our yoke is the Lord’s!
Praise Him trembling to-day, His mercy is wide—
Ye who fear for His wrath—it doth not abide!
Ye seraphim, high above storm clouds may sing;
Men and angels make music, th’ All-seeing is king. 
As ye open your lips, at His Name they shall cease—
Transgression and sin—in their place shall be peace;
And thrice shall the Shophar re-echo your song
On mountain and altar to whom both belong. 

Music: O Sing Unto the Lord – Handel

Psalm 93: Nestle in God’s Robe

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot

July 11, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 93, the first of the royal psalms (93-99) which praise God as King.

As we pray with today’s verses, we can easily feel the psalmist stretching for a description of God Who is, of course, indescribable. Never having seen God, we can only imagine the Divine Being in human terms. This writer imagines God as a King beyond even the greatness of human kings, and it is a beautiful image:

The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.


Like the psalmist, we may tend to paint God in the colors of those who have had greatest influence in our lives

  • those with power over us, like parents and teachers
  • those who have loved us, or failed to
  • those in positions of success, and strength

Because all human models are flawed in some way, this tendency can give us a blurry, if not distorted picture of God.


Jesus came to correct our perspective.


A beautiful extra hymn for today. Just love this one.

Jesus showed us that, while we live on this earth, the glory of God is a hidden glory. It is robed in the suffering of the poor and abandoned. Its splendor is in the innocence of children. Its strength is in the hope of the sick and weak. Its beauty shines out to us in the vulnerability of our sisters and brothers.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the tender image of God as One who cherishes every hair on our heads. As we pray today, we might let that gentle God reach down and caress any pain, exhaustion or fear, like a Mother brushing her child’s hair. Just be with God Who knows our needs. Be cradled in the splendrous robe.



Poetry:  God’s True Cloak – Rainer Maria Rilke

We must not portray you in king’s robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.
Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervent hands hide you.

Music: George Frideric Handel – Chandos Anthem, #4/ Psalm 93 – O Sing Unto the Lord

The Glorious Baptism of Jesus

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 12, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Jesus makes a remarkable debut! 

Picture the scene. It is a beautiful morning in the Judean Valley where the Jordan Riven runs fresh and sparkling. Most scholars place the Baptism of Jesus sometime in January, which means the weather would have been relatively cool. But perhaps, like our own weather, an unusually warm day may have snuck in.

Rustic, fiery preacher John is baptizing in the Jordan River. Crowds have come to hear what he has to say. Some are convinced and dive into the cool water under his hand.

Others rim the hillside, not so sure John isn’t one of the many who have glorious visions but few facts.

Then, out from the pines on the far side of the river, comes Jesus, flanked by some of the Twelve. While his companions chat away to Jesus, his eyes are focused on John. In an instant, Jesus realizes that this is the moment for his revelation. In that same instant, all Creation realizes the same thing.

As Jesus walks slowly toward John, the birds and little animals speak to him, “My Lord and my God…”.  Wind whistling through the trees becomes an Oratorio praising him. All the surrounding colors deepen, breaking forth in unimaginable light.

John is stunned by the cosmic change he senses but cannot describe. Heart trembling, he looks into Jesus’s eyes and catches a glimpse of heaven. “I need to be baptized by you”, John says,”and yet you are coming to me?

Jesus smiles at his cousin, replying, 

“Let it be so now;
it is proper for us to do this
to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then John consented.

Perhaps those in the crowd, schooled in the ancient scriptures, heard Isaiah’s voice in the charged atmosphere:

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Matthew tells us:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.

the-baptism-of-jesus-jeff-haynie
The Baptism Of Jesus is a painting by Jeff Haynie For purchase, see:https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-baptism-of-jesus-jeff-haynie.html

Can you see him light-heartedly splashing John as he shakes his dark curls free of the chilly water? Can you see his transfigured face as he hears his Father speak Love over him?

At that moment heaven was opened,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

What a beautiful moment in time! Don’t we wish we might have been there in the blessed and awe-struck crowd? We can. Let your prayer of imagination take you there.

Music: The Baptism of Jesus

Be Light!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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Jn5_35 light

Today, in Mercy, the Gospel gives us Jesus claiming his throne. He is setting his disciples straight before he is no longer with them. He drives home each of the pillars of his Messiahship, like so many stakes in the ground:

  • I have testimony greater than John’s.
  • The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.
  • The Father has testified on my behalf.
  • I came in the name of my Father.

Jesus is saying these things to his persecutors, but he says them for the benefit of his surrounding disciples. He wants them to remember these things to sustain them in the dark times to come.

In this passage, Jesus also pays a glorious compliment to John the Baptist:

He was a burning and shining lamp.

Now Jesus wants his followers, fired by their faith, to burn with an even greater light. He wants us to do the same, to burn with a flame steadied by Christ’s assurances, by the stunning testimony of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Music:  But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming – Handel

But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.