Psalm 130: A Season of Waiting for Morning

First LightToday’s Psalter:  Psalm 130 (Lent 5A)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.  It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

The Psalmist writes from the deepest bowels of life.  It is his or her lowest point, feeling so overwhelmed with despair, almost hopeless.  And yet, there, is the sound of the still small voice.  It’s only a whisper but it is there.  The Psalmist strains to hear, laying there in the darkness, unable to sleep, unable to see the light of the morning.  It is a Psalm of faith.  It is the expression of one who though wallowing in the depths of sadness and despair, cannot feel God’s Presence and, yet, knows in the deepest part of his or her being that God is there.  It is the writing of one who knows that there is always morning, if we will only wait.

The words of the Psalm promise us that no matter how dark the night will be, there is always morning.  There is always redemption.  The King James Version depicts it as “plenteous redemption”.  We often hear of redemption as if it is some sort of payment that God required for our sins, as if Jesus’ death was somehow foreordained because we were such sinful creatures that God could take it no more.  But redemption also means restoration, to bring something to a better state.  It is what the Psalmist knows.  God is there, though unseen, restoring, recreating, even in this moment of darkness.  Redemption is not about payment; it is about the promise of morning, the promise of life.  Redemption is not about what Jesus gave us or what Jesus did for us but what God in Christ does even now.  God brings morning.

The Psalm does not give us empty promises that “everything will be alright”.  Rather, it is honest.  Sometimes life hurts.  Sometimes life hurts more than we think we can bear.  Sometimes we have our own dark night of the soul.  But in the darkness, we learn to wait.  We learn to hope.  That is what Lent is–a waiting in the depths.  We are journeying now deeper and deeper into the darkness.  We know that it will be painful, at times even unbearable.  But our faith tells us that God is present whether or not we can feel the presence.  And so we learn to wait.  We wait through pain and betrayal and last nights together.  We wait through darkness and death.  We wait in the stillness and foreboding silence.  We wait because we know that morning always comes.

Bidden or unbidden, God is present.  (Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Also attributed to Carl Jung, because the quote was posted above his door in his house in Switzerland.)

“Out of the Depths”, John Rutter, “Requiem”

On this 5th Sunday of Lent, claim your own depths.  Imagine what your own recreation looks like.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

I have posted a reflection on the Stations of the Cross as a “page” on the blog.  If you go to dancingtogod.com and click on it at the top, you can view it.

 

Deep Waters

Diving into watersScripture Passage:  Ephesians 3: 18-19

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

What does it mean to “go deep”?  (No, I’m not talking about a football pass.)  Depth is a hard thing for many of us to master.  Depth takes time.  Depth takes patience.  Depth is allowing oneself to essentially go beyond where one is comfortable standing.  So many in our culture tend to be content to sort of skirt along the shallow surface, always in a hurry, always trying to move forward, never standing long enough to be able to sink into the depths that call us forth.  Standing in shallow waters feels safe, controlled.  But going deeper gives one insights into newness.  It is a return to the place from which we came.

Think about the earth.  Its surface is beautiful, more beautiful than any of us can even articulate.  But beneath that beauty is oh, so much more.  Just dig into the earth a bit.  That hard sun-bleached dirt on top gives way to that first level of top soil.  It is darker, more full of nutrients.  But dig a little deeper.  Dig into the rich dark earth that rests below that, capable of holding what is good longer, capable of holding water long past any drought.  It’s the reason that deep watering systems are so optimal.  The slow watering drives the water down deep into that rich soil underneath that is capable of holding the water.  And the slow watering encourages the roots of the plants to go deeper, to rich down beyond themselves, beyond what they were initially capable of doing, to be watered continuously by the deep, dark earth.  But there is more beneath that.  Beneath all that dirt are layers upon layers from which we have learned to extract nutrients and fossil fuels that give us energy and much, much more than what we could ever obtain from the surface that we see.

Our life is no different.  What we see is beautiful but it’s just the surface.  We need to go deeper, to delve into the rich, dark earth that brings us life.  I have to admit that our religious traditions often do not encourage us to do that.  We seem to be more worried that the church service might run a little long.  So there seems to be some level of contentment at just skirting along the surface of the meaning of faith.  Maybe it’s because it’s easier.  Maybe it’s because it’s safer. Maybe it’s because deep down (pun intended), we’re all a little afraid of the unknown or the questionable or the difficulties that deep discussion brings about.  Maybe we’re afraid we’ll be left with more questions than answers.  (ACTUALLY, I can tell you that will probably be the case.)  And I don’t really think that we should shy away from going deeper for fear that those new to the tradition will not “understand”.  I think we all want to be challenged.  We want to learn.  We want to traverse the never-ending nuances that make up our faith, the pathways that lead us to God.  But it takes time.  It is not a really good sermon or an overnight retreat project or a short-term study series or even 36 weeks of Disciple I.  It is rather a lifetime of swimming downward into the deep waters of one’s soul.  There is no bottom but rather an infinite depth that we are called to traverse, growing as we go.

The Lenten season is by its very nature one of descent.  It is one of going deep, journeying deep within oneself to a place that is often successfully hidden from view.  It is the way of transformation, a search beyond what we know.  When I was little, I think I had this image of God high above me, looking down.  I assumed that I was supposed to rise above where I was.  I have now realized that I must go deep.  God has in all of us a deep well of living water.  We are called not to just perch on its edge and look down into it, but to plunge deep, immersing ourselves in the questions of faith.  Our finite minds cannot truly wrap themselves around the unfathomable depths of God’s love.  So we have to live it, breathe it, become it.

Every question in life is an invitation to live with a touch more depth, a breath more meaning. (Joan Chittister)

On this Lenten journey, think of those places where you are just skirting the surface of life.  Do not hold back.  Go deep, dive into the deep waters of God. 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

Psalm 130: A Season of Waiting for Morning

First LightToday’s Psalter:  Psalm 130 (Lent 5A)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.  It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

The Psalmist writes from the deepest bowels of life.  It is his or her lowest point, feeling so overwhelmed with despair, almost hopeless.  And yet, there, is the sound of the still small voice.  It’s only a whisper but it is there.  The Psalmist strains to hear, laying there in the darkness, unable to sleep, unable to see the light of the morning.  It is a Psalm of faith.  It is the expression of one who though wallowing in the depths of sadness and despair, cannot feel God’s Presence and, yet, knows in the deepest part of his or her being that God is there.  It is the writing of one who knows that there is always morning, if we will only wait.

The words of the Psalm promise us that no matter how dark the night will be, there is always morning.  There is always redemption.  The King James Version depicts it as “plenteous redemption”.  We often hear of redemption as if it is some sort of payment that God required for our sins, as if Jesus’ death was somehow foreordained because we were such sinful creatures that God could take it no more.  But redemption also means restoration, to bring something to a better state.  It is what the Psalmist knows.  God is there, though unseen, restoring, recreating, even in this moment of darkness.  Redemption is not about payment; it is about the promise of morning, the promise of life.  Redemption is not about what Jesus gave us or what Jesus did for us but what God in Christ does even now.  God brings morning.

The Psalm does not give us empty promises that “everything will be alright”.  Rather, it is honest.  Sometimes life hurts.  Sometimes life hurts more than we think we can bear.  Sometimes we have our own dark night of the soul.  But in the darkness, we learn to wait.  We learn to hope.  That is what Lent is–a waiting in the depths.  We are journeying now deeper and deeper into the darkness.  We know that it will be painful, at times even unbearable.  But our faith tells us that God is present whether or not we can feel the presence.  And so we learn to wait.  We wait through pain and betrayal and last nights together.  We wait through darkness and death.  We wait in the stillness and foreboding silence.  We wait because we know that morning always comes.

Bidden or unbidden, God is present.  (Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Also attributed to Carl Jung, because the quote was posted above his door in his house in Switzerland.)

“Out of the Depths”, John Rutter, “Requiem”

On this 5th Sunday of Lent, claim your own depths.  Imagine what your own recreation looks like.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

I have posted a reflection on the Stations of the Cross as a “page” on the blog.  If you go to dancingtogod.com and click on it at the top, you can view it.

 

Deep Waters

Diving into watersScripture Passage:  Ephesians 3: 18-19

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

What does it mean to “go deep”?  (No, I’m not talking about a football pass.)  Depth is a hard thing for many of us to master.  Depth takes time.  Depth takes patience.  Depth is allowing oneself to essentially go beyond where one is comfortable standing.  So many in our culture tend to be content to sort of skirt along the shallow surface, always in a hurry, always trying to move forward, never standing long enough to be able to sink into the depths that call us forth.  Standing in shallow waters feels safe, controlled.  But going deeper gives one insights into newness.  It is a return to the place from which we came.

Think about the earth.  Its surface is beautiful, more beautiful than any of us can even articulate.  But beneath that beauty is oh, so much more.  Just dig into the earth a bit.  That hard sun-bleached dirt on top gives way to that first level of top soil.  It is darker, more full of nutrients.  But dig a little deeper.  Dig into the rich dark earth that rests below that, capable of holding what is good longer, capable of holding water long past any drought.  It’s the reason that deep watering systems are so optimal.  The slow watering drives the water down deep into that rich soil underneath that is capable of holding the water.  And the slow watering encourages the roots of the plants to go deeper, to rich down beyond themselves, beyond what they were initially capable of doing, to be watered continuously by the deep, dark earth.  But there is more beneath that.  Beneath all that dirt are layers upon layers from which we have learned to extract nutrients and fossil fuels that give us energy and much, much more than what we could ever obtain from the surface that we see.

Our life is no different.  What we see is beautiful but it’s just the surface.  We need to go deeper, to delve into the rich, dark earth that brings us life.  I have to admit that our religious traditions often do not encourage us to do that.  There seems to be some level of contentment at just skirting along the surface of the meaning of faith.  Maybe it’s because it’s easier.  Maybe it’s because it’s safer. Maybe it’s because deep down (pun intended), we’re all a little afraid of the unknown or the questionable or the difficulties that deep discussion brings about.  Maybe we’re afraid we’ll be left with more questions than answers.  (ACTUALLY, I can tell you that will probably be the case.)  And I don’t really think that we should shy away from going deeper for fear that those new to the tradition will not “understand”.  I think we all want to be challenged.  We want to learn.  We want to traverse the never-ending nuances that make up our faith, the pathways that lead us to God.  But it takes time.  It is not a really good sermon or an overnight retreat project or a short-term study series or even 36 weeks of Disciple I.  It is rather a lifetime of swimming downward into the deep waters of one’s soul.  There is no bottom but rather an infinite depth that we are called to traverse, growing as we go.

The Lenten season is by its very nature one of descent.  It is one of going deep, journeying deep within oneself to a place that is often successfully hidden from view.  It is the way of transformation, a search beyond what we know.  When I was little, I think I had this image of God high above me, looking down.  I assumed that I was supposed to rise above where I was.  I have now realized that I must go deep.  God has in all of us a deep well of living water.  We are called not to just perch on its edge and look down into it, but to plunge deep, immersing ourselves in the questions of faith.  Our finite minds cannot truly wrap themselves around the unfathomable depths of God’s love.  So we have to live it, breathe it, become it.

Every question in life is an invitation to live with a touch more depth, a breath more meaning. (Joan Chittister)

On this Lenten journey, think of those places where you are just skirting the surface of life.  Do not hold back.  Go deep, dive into the deep waters of God. 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli