High River United Church of High River, Alberta

A Message to Connect - June 1
Grace & Peace to You.

For those of you who are following these messages online, we want to let you know that we will now be posting only on Mondays & Thursdays.  We will still touch on as many psalms and themes as we can.  Blessings to you for this day.

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Susan’s Reflections on Psalms 30-31-32

As I was reading the psalms day by day this weekend, I wondered, “Why are there so many psalms that express fear, frustration, worry, and deep sadness about life?” Think about it communal and individual laments make up the majority of the psalms. Even in psalms of thanksgiving, there is usually a mention of enemies, wickedness or tragedy. If the psalms were being chosen in the last decade or so in our society, I think that there would have been an emphasis on psalms of thanksgiving or happiness instead.


What I’m getting at is that we live in a culture in Canada and the US that has been was based, for several decades, on “Don’t worry – be happy!” The right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” expressed in the US Declaration of Independence has spilled over to how we see life in both countries. Material wealth, and thus consumerism, has been equated with happiness. We have been fed the myth that money can buy happiness and that owning stuff brings satisfaction and security.


Yet, as these psalms remind us, that has not been the reality for most of human civilization, and is not the reality for most people in our world even in this century. COVID-19 has burst the bubble of that illusion. The current protests in the US, in Canada and other countries, once again draw our attention to the inequities and racism that continues to exists.  


So many psalms of frustration, fear and sadness were chosen, calling upon God to help, because we need this many psalms to help us name and lament what is not right in our world. With the writer of Psalm 31 I declare, “Our times are in your hands, o God; deliver us.” (verse 7). With the writer of Psalm 32, I recognize that I have sins to confess and address (verse 5) as part of the culture in which I live, ways that I contribute to, without even meaning to, the inequities and injustices in our world. I heed the warnings of Psalm 32 that I shouldn’t be an untempered horse or mule (verse 9), stubbornly sticking with what I’ve always done.


The psalms never leave us without hope though. Psalm 32 promises that God is a hiding place in times of trouble (verse 7 – A book by Corrie Ten Boom, “The Hiding Place,” recounting life in WW2 Holland takes its name from this verse.) But it is not that we are meant to hide away and ignore what is going on. Scripture always calls us to step out in faith to bring justice and compassion in this world. We do so trusting in the words of Psalm 30, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning… You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (verses 5 & 11)


Right now, we need every one of those psalms of lament and grief, so that we can cry out to God, not just for the ways that our individual and family lives have changed, but even more so for the injustice and inequity that has been laid bare in our world by COVID. “Incline your ear, o God of steadfast love,” we pray, “and show us the way we need to go. Amen.”


David’s Reflections on Psalm 33

He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle… (vs.7a)

I was caught by this phrase from verse 7 right away. I had to sit for a bit and wonder… How is the writer of this psalm imagining God in relationship with the world and all its people? There is rejoicing and praise to be sure. But also, and more comprehensively, themes of upright, faithfulness, righteousness, justice, and steadfast love appear throughout the psalm. These are the qualities of a people/nation that live with God as their source. This is the God who gathers the waters of the sea as in a bottle!


I feel that the psalmist is capturing the very essence of how we should consider God and how God considers us. Happy are the ones who live within the wider wisdom of God and the cosmic wonder of all that lives and moves and has its being in God. Leaders are not saved by their amassed fortunes and might, nor is the warrior delivered by his or her strength. Hmmmm…. We might need to pay attention here.


Psalm 33 has echoes of Genesis 1 as it recounts the wonder and mystery of God presiding over all Creation. The cosmic order is accomplished by God speaking it all into a balanced existence. Those who think they can control the universe by whatever absurd means they have at their disposal does not mix well with the intentions of the Creator who has the capacity to bottle an ocean.


In fact, rejoicing and happiness is not only granted but is the natural product of a relationship with God, who garners life with steadfast love. It is from there that wisdom is born and lives among us. The question raised (among many) is how then shall we live in wisdom with the loving, wild, compassionate, steadfast Creator of the universe?


Alfred Tennyson says it very well:

Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be…

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.


With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David


High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.” A. Heschel






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