Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
The beginning of Psalm 105
This morning, the daily reading app (at YouVersion.com, of which I am quite fond, btw) on my phone served to me Psalm 105 which starts with this marvelous call to praise God.
I read it in the context of reading a post from another long-time member of Houston’s Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) Lisa Tenney. Her thoughts were a joy to hear; and as I began to read this Psalm of praise and exhortation to praise God for His mighty acts, I could not help but put the two together.
As she meditated on the closing, the “deconsecrating” of the building that had been home to so much, She wondered quite provocatively (and I think wisely) if such a “deconsecrating” is even possible of that which has been consecrated -set aside- to God’s own use. Perhaps it depends in part on who is doing the consecrating, He or us? Lisa evoked in me the gladness of which this Psalm speaks, but also a sadness, that this time was gone. All such remembrances do this. We, or at least, I, thought this time would last forever. It was the way the church was supposed to be, and so would continue until Jesus calls us to that even better worship around the throne.
There is a lot of sadness. A lot of doubt. At least the Psalm praised God for what He had done, and that was good.
But as I read on, I found a shift – The psalmist was praising God, not for a general attribute of God, or for His general beneficence towards us, but for something very specific. the Exodus; God’s rescuing Israel from bondage in Egypt, and leading them to a land which He would give (had given) them. A deed that by the time of this psalm was many hundreds of years in the past.
But as I have spent time in the Hebrew scriptures over the last decade or so, often blessed by the presence of a woman who is an observant but non-Christian Jew, I have come to understand something of how God taught Israel to think about that time. Jewish teaching, even now, emphasizes the fact that ALL Israel, not just the generation in those years, but all Israel including today –all were rescued at the Passover; all passed through the midst of the Red Sea, all stood at the base of Mt Sinai and shared in the sin and the receiving of the law, all wandered in the wilderness and all were delivered and redeemed into “the land which I will give you.”
When they remember this time through the festivals and Holy days, they are not to remember hearing about them. They are not to hear the stories of their ancestors, they are to remember. Because they were there.
OK – What’s the connection?
Israel was to remember this time even after the time was gone for them to live in it. They were to bring it forward into a new land. They were to bring the reality of the Lord’s saving and mighty hand forward to a new generation. They were no longer to gather manna every morning, but they were to live by, and teach, the goodness and power and redemptive love of the God who had provided it in that season. They were not to “look back” to that time to see what God did back then; rather, they were, they are, to look AT the God of whom such things continually bear witness.
So I may indeed wish that things were as I saw them, as I wanted and expected them to be. But I am morning for the death of my vision, of my dreams. The vision of God, the plans of God, did not die. They do not end. Ever.
Instead, I am to remember the God who showed me, and us such things; and by them, showed me something of Himself, and of His love, and of the ways He would have us mirror that love to each other. I am to carry that time into all the new times
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven,
which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal
till it was all leavened.”
May I remember the facts of God’s presence, and His mighty deeds, long after my mere thoughts about God have crumbled into dust.