Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"For God alone my soul in silence waits..."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 -- Week of 2 Lent, Year One
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr, 1556
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 952)
Psalms 61, 62  (morning)        68:1-20(21-23)24-36 (evening)
Jeremiah 2:1-13
Romans 1:16-25
John 4:43-54

The psalms open today with cries of intention to trust in God as our foundation and refuge.  Though times are hard -- problems and conflicts may assail us -- God is our rock and salvation.  "Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer.  I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I."  "For God alone my soul in silence waits; from God comes my salvation.  God alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.  ...For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, there is my hope."

The psalmist tells himself not to be distracted by the powerful or the deceitful.  He looks at those who are dishonest, and yet they seem to thrive.  "Though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it."  He reminds himself to be anchored in God and God's will.  "Put your trust in God always, O people; pour out your hearts before the one who is our refuge." 

There is a power that comes to us quietly when we let our soul sit in silence and wait upon God.  Our world tells us that we are responsible for fixing things.  If there is something that isn't working to your satisfaction, work on it.  Fix it, we are taught.  And if it continues to be troublesome, it just means you aren't trying hard enough, we think.  So we work and fix frantically, and things remain troubled and fouled up. 

Sometimes we take this cultural message and apply it to ourselves.  If you aren't perfect in every way, fix yourself.  If you aren't working to your satisfaction, try harder.  Self-help industries abound to tell us how we can lose more weight, get control of our lives, be successful and then we'll be happy.  What percentage of advertising tries to sell us something with the promise that it will make us happy either by fixing us or distracting us?

And those among us who have children sometimes project this cultural message on them, the little mysteries.  We think that parents are supposed to fix their children, instead of simply loving and nurturing them. 

All of these are ego driven projects.  Fixing.  Improving.  Competing.  If things aren't just right, it's your responsibility.  Do something!

"Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer.  I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I."  "For God alone my soul in silence waits; from God comes my salvation.  God alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.  ...For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, there is my hope."

The other readings today seem to confirm the psalmist's prayer. 

Jeremiah asks the people why they have lost their earlier love and devotion.  When Israel lived in the wilderness, they trusted God.  Now that they are comfortable and relatively secure, they look to their own means, their own power and wealth, for their own selfish purposes. 

Paul addresses the Gentiles to remind them that everything is based on faith, on active trust in God who loves us and give us righteousness as a gift.  Paul says that everyone can know the goodness and generosity of God simply by looking at the earth, at creation.  But we look to ourselves, to the creature and the creations of our hands instead.

Finally, we have a good example.  From John's gospel.  Jesus leaves Samaria where he has made friends his people's enemies.  Jesus returns to Cana, the place of his first sign, turning water into wine.  Eighteen miles away in Capernaum, a royal official, probably one who served Herod Antipas, has a problem.  His son is ill.  He hears Jesus has returned to the region, and he travels to ask Jesus to save his son.  Jesus tells him, "Go; your son will live."  The royal official trusts Jesus' word and returns home.  The son is well.

Inside each of us is that childlike trust that has been healthy in us from time to time.  We've known ourselves to be loved, accepted, and just fine.  But troubles and distractions assail us, and we think we have to dig our way through them.  We forget our earlier love and devotion.  We regress into ego driven projects.  We try to fix things, including ourselves.

Peace, says Jesus.  Quiet.  "For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, there is my hope."

Lowell

__________________

Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

4 Comments:

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous janet l graige said...

Lowell,

This is lovely writing today, pearls of great beauty. I spent the weekend speaking peace and walking labyrinths. And when I returned I saw that Libya had been bombed. It feels at times like we rip the body of Christ apart instead of building it up - and my head almost understands why but my soul stays firmly fixed, No! this is not the peaceful way nor the way to peace.

I find it most difficult tonight to put words together for a simple haiku from evening prayer.

Twelve

Love spoke - fear lifted
Yet we seek signs and wonders
And wait to speak peace

Lord have Mercy,
janet

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for your words, and your bold sensitivity.

I listened to a former British ambassador to Libya who was asking a few weeks ago why the West couldn't arrange for a safe ticket out for Gaddafi and asylum in an east African country. He talked of how we had created a corner that made violence inevitable. I don't know enough to judge whether he was right.

I'm not a pacifist, at least not yet. And I am sometimes quick to want military intervention when genocide or something similar is threatened. I am glad to see Gaddafi's aggression checked.

Now, can we finish well and establish peace, not just enduring violence as we so often seem to create.

Lowell

 
At 9:11 PM, Anonymous janet said...

Well, still no, I just can't go there!

It's probably good we have something we can argue gently about.

Peace,
Janet

 
At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you think Obomba can bring peace Janet?

Here is my Libya Haiku

Colonel Gaddafi
He is waiting for virgins
Hope we can help him!

 

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