High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Connecting with You - June 22

Grace & Peace to You!

Today, shorter psalm reflections will be offered for this week and, on Thursday, for the two weeks we are away, for those who are enjoying the psalm journey. This weekend, with Psalm 50, we are 1/3 of the way through the psalms.


Psalm 53

As I read these psalms, I remember that these are personal statements by the psalm writers about what they believe about God and the world in which they live. They are not a prescribed-from-heaven script for what we must believe. These are human expressions from people trying to make sense of the presence of the divine. So, when I read the psalms, I may agree or disagree with any specific thing that is expressed. What is important is that it makes me think about what I understand about God’s presence and interaction with the world.


In Psalm 53, while I might consider it foolish to say, “There is no God,” I do not see everyone who is atheist as corrupt. I know many who do not believe in God who do wonderful and good things in this world.


I also disagree with the line “God looks down from heaven on humankind.” I understand that that was the concept in the time and place of the writer of this psalm. But I lean much more to the understanding of the Celtic people and other mystics of the Christian faith, that God is within us and around us. As it says in the books of Acts, In God we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28


Psalm 54

This is a psalm expressing both hope and trust. That’s always a good place to start with a psalm – the emotion that is expressed or evoked. This psalm continues the theme of seeing as foolish those who do not keep God as the centre of their lives.


I also resonate with the writer of this psalm in wishing for repayment and retribution for evil. There is much happening right now where I wish that the person(s) who have caused harm or who are acting foolishly will reap what they sow.


However, I put alongside that the words of Jesus to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.   Our faith is not an easy path; the Way of Jesus is not a simple approach. It demands that we push ourselves beyond our natural human tendencies.   The psalms express our human emotions, but the rest of both Jewish and Christian scripture offer words that call us to expand our perspective.


 Psalm 55

 “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly I would flee far away: I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest.”


A place of shelter – what is your place of shelter? Where can you go when you just need that time apart, that time to regroup, that time to cry or shout or grieve in safety? Sometimes we have a place we can physically go to for shelter. Sometimes the shelter is found with another person, who we can trust with our tears and our words. Sometimes, shelter is found in an image that we can hold in our minds. My image contains forest and a mountain waterfall with two Adirondack chairs (one for me and one for the Divine presence).  


We all need a place of shelter from the storm, where we can rest for awhile? What is your sheltering place? Where can you ‘cast your burden upon the Lord’ and find God’s sustaining presence?


 Psalm 56

 "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” verse 8


I discovered this verse a few months ago. Yes, I had read it before, but suddenly it jumped out at me and captured my imagination.  


Over and over again in scripture, there is this message given that the Creator of the Universe knows each of us intimately. Imagine, God keeping a record of my tossings and turnings at night, knowing my fears and worries before I even name them, and catching my tears in a bottle so that they can be cared for and tended to. As the writer of the psalm says, “This I know, that God is for me.”


How powerful is that! To know that the God of All is as close to me as my breath and as concerned about me as those physical beings who love me. It calls out of me a generous and grateful response to such love, and a commitment, like the psalmist, “to walk before God in the light of life.”


Psalm 57

“In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.” This is the season of baby birds. As we have been walking around Sunshine Lake these past weeks, we first saw the mother goose sitting on her nest full of eggs, with father goose close at hand to offer protection. Then we saw the babies emerge, five in total. Each day we counted the babies, hoping that there would still be five, since the eagles and hawks have been known to attack. One day, we heard the parent geese honking and saw them flapping wings, warding off a potential predator.


Still, day by day, there have been five little ones. Now they are molting. It is amazing how they have grown in a few short weeks. Each day, their survival becomes more assured.


As I read verse 1 of Psalm 57, I imagine God as a mother hen or mother goose, and I imagine myself tucking under the wing, nestling into the warmth and being protected from wind, waves and predators.   What image helps you imagine the comfort and courage that the Divine presence brings to our lives? Is it imagining yourself with Jesus by your side. Is it imagining God as the parent who supports and encourages. Is it picturing God as the prodigal father in the gospel of Luke or the midwife in Psalm 71:6 or Isaiah 66:9?


Like the psalmists, we can find our images for the God of steadfast love, images that help us connect with the divine, and find hope and courage in God’s faithfulness.


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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