I will look for You – a Psalmic reflection

Featured

WHY AM I AWAKE?

The comforter feels heavy. My body is sore. So is my spirit. I shift from one side to the other and turn on my back, but it doesn’t help.

picture of digital clock

I look over to the night table at the old digital clock that once told my parents the time of day or night — the inheritance with the BIG red numbers that glow in the dark to help old folks read them.

The red numbers read 3:13.

I throw off the covers, stumble down the 18 steps to the first floor, make a pot of coffee, pour myself a cup, turn on the small table lamp by the fireplace, and sit down for an early morning conversation with the psalmist in the copy of The Book of Common Prayer Sue Kahn put in my hand years ago.

MEDITATION ON PSALM 5 (SELECTED VERSES)

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.[v.3]
Art work by Andrej Mashkotsev with Tower of Babel in the backgound adds visual weight to "the little kings and usurpers.

I will put my trust in You. I will not surrender to powers that know no higher power.

You, Lord, are the Breath that breathes in all and makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and unjust — “Lord of lords and King of kings,” the Eternal One from Whom the little kings and usurpers cannot flee.

“AN EMPIRE” – ANDREJ MASHKOTSEV

I make my appeal to You for Whom the darkness is as light. Things are dark here in America. We are divided. The future looks dark. Although my faith tells me You are present everywhere, I do not feel hopeful. It seems as though You have left us to our own devises.

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
and evil cannot dwell with You. [v.4]

Though it feels as though You are hiding, I have to believe You do not take pleasure in wickedness, and that the partisan evil, as bold and obvious as the big red numbers on my parents’ digital clock at 3:13 A.M, will not prevail. Evil cannot dwell with You.

Braggarts cannot stand in your sight; you hate all those who work wickedness. [v.5]

Does it matter to You?

If braggarts cannot stand in Your sight, come into sight. Show Yourself. Take Your seat on the judgment throne to hold the braggarts accountable for their treason against You and all that breathes. Summon the braggarts to stand before You before it is too late.

Do You hate wickedness? Does Love also hate? Do You shrug and let it go?

PAINTING “JOHN” BY LILIA MAZURKEVICH 

But as for me, through the greatness of your mercy I will go into your house;
I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you. (v.7)

I will bow down in awe of You. The good green Earth is Your temple. I will look to the greatness of Your mercy. When it feels as though You are hiding, I will seek You. I will remember the wisdom of the Hasidic grandfather teach his grandson about You, when young Yechiel came home in tears because his friend had stopped looking for him in a game of hide-and-seek.

artwork "Hide-and-Seek" by Marieke Peters - Visual Artist adds visual impact to the Buber story and intent of the post.

“Rebbe Barukh caressed Yechiel’s face, and with tears welling up in his eyes, he whispered softly, ‘God too Yechiel, God too is weeping. For, He too has been hidden with no one looking for Him’.” (Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim).

HIDE-AND-SEEK, MARIEKE PETERS

I will look for You.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Dec. 6, 2019.

God the Stranger

I “know” less and less of what I thought I knew. The world has driven me into the unknowing silence out of which James A. Whyte spoke at the funeral in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1989.

During his term as Moderator of the Church of Scotland, The Right Rev. Dr. Professor James A. Whyte , still grieving the death of his wife, was called upon to lead the memorial service after Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie. Among the most quoted parts of the sermon is this excerpt:

“That such carnage of the young and of the innocent should have been willed by men in cold and calculated evil, is horror upon horror. What is our response to that?

The desire, the determination, that those who did this should be detected and, if possible, brought to justice, is natural and is right. The uncovering of the truth will not be easy, and evidence that would stand up in a court of law may be hard to obtain.

Justice is one thing. But already one hears in the media the word ‘retaliation’. As far as I know, no responsible politician has used that word, and I hope none ever will, except to disown it. For that way lies the endless cycle of violence upon violence, horror upon horror. And we may be tempted, indeed urged by some, to flex our muscles in response, to show that we are men. To show that we are what? To show that we are prepared to let more young and more innocent die, to let more rescue workers labour in more wreckage to find the grisly proof, not of our virility, but of our inhumanity. That is what retaliation means.”

For James Whyte God is often silent. We are called to enter the space of God’s silence, the silence of the cross, the confusion and horror of the suffering of God at the hands of a world filled with man-made gods: security, freedom, nationalism, religion, muscle, revenge and self-righteousness, cultural supremacy. In the Jesus of the cross, Whyte’s eyes saw not only a naked man but God’s nakedness – a naked God stripped of all power, his arms roped to a cross-beam paradoxically spread wide to embrace the whole world of human suffering and folly.

James Whyte took time out of his busy life in 1991 to act as a conversation partner and mentor for an American pastor whose congregation had granted its pastor a sabbatical leave in St. Andrews. They met twice weekly for two months in his flat over tea and scones, the young American absorbed in the vexations of Christian claims to Christ’s uniqueness and universality, on the one hand, and religious pluralism, on the other, the good Right Rev. Dr. Professor listening attentively, maintaining a poignant silence that respected his mentee’s process. When the pastor left Scotland, he asked his mentor for a copy of prayers James Whyte had offered during worship at the Hope Park Church in St. Andrews. Each of the prayers was as thing of beauty. Each began with a quotation from the Book of Psalms.

James Whyte’s spirituality echoes that of an old Hasidic Rabbi (Barukh of Medzebozh [1757-1811]) reflecting on Psalm 119.

“I live as an alien in the land;
do not hide your commandments from me”
– Psalm 119:19

Rabbi Barukh of Medzebozh said of this psalm:

“The one who life drives into exile and who comes to an alien land has nothing in common with the people there and has no one to talk to. But if a second stranger appears, even though that person may come from quite a different place, the two can confide in each other. And had they not both been strangers, they would never have known such a close relationship. That is what the psalmist means: ‘You, even as I, are a sojourner on earth and have no abiding place for your glory. So do not withdraw from me, but reveal your commandments, that I may become your friend.”
– Martin Buber, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Hasidim-Early-Masters-Later/dp/0805209956(

” title=”Link to information on Tales of the Hassidim”>Tales of Hassidim – the Early Masters.

Thanks you, James Whyte, good and faithful servant and friend of God the Stranger. RIP.