The Psalms of Advent, December 2, 2022
You are invited light a candle and join me as we continue our journey with Psalm 72.
“We become like the God we adore.” So writes priest, psychologist, and author Dennis Linn in his book, Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God. * As he further explains, if the God we worship and adore is an angry, wrathful, punitive, fire-breathing, pulpit-thumping Being who keeps a list of who’s naughty and nice with plenty of coal to spare, then more than likely we ourselves will tend to be angry, wrathful, and punitive people who live from a source of fear and retribution. If, on the other hand, the God we worship and adore is patient, merciful, slow to anger, forgiving, compassionate, and loving, then more than likely we ourselves will tend to be kinder people who live from a source of grace. Linn’s theory makes complete sense to me as my own image of God has been re-imagined over the course of my life.
Borrowing from Linn, we also, I believe, become like the other gods we follow and support. In the Elizabethan era, a popular concept existed called “The Great Chain of Being.” According to this concept, there was a designated place-in-line, or “pecking order,” for every creature, from heaven to earth. The Christian God, of course, was at the top. Different levels of angels were stacked beneath him, and immediately following the angels came Man, with the monarch, who was thought to be God’s representative on earth, at the top of the human chain. (The lowest creature on the chain was the oyster, but that’s a story or poem for another day.) Part of the concept included a “trickle down” kind of theory: when a good king, a just and righteous king, sat on the throne, all the kingdom beneath him on the chain would benefit through prosperity and peace. When a bad king sat on the throne, all the kingdom beneath him on the chain would be injured, if not destroyed, by strife and turmoil. From the early history of biblical Judaism, with its own good and bad kings, to today, we see the truth in this concept. Good kings rain down benefits; bad kings rain down disaster.
Most of us do not bow down to kings these days; instead, we choose the political leaders that we follow and that we support with our money, allegiance, and vote. It is clear in this Advent psalm 72 that this author desires a good king:
May (the king) live while the sun endures
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
(Verse 5-7, New Revised Standard Version)
“Like rain” stands out for me. This prayer is a petition that this new king will not act like a god, but who, instead, will act “godly.” As the king does so, as the king attempts to bring God’s kingdom into reality, his righteousness and justice will “water” everyone and everything under him. New life, fresh beginnings, and abundant growth will occur. The poor and sick will be cared for, the marginalized included. Consider such a leader, one who cares more about his/her people than about himself/herself. Consider such a leader, one who believes that being in right relationship with the Creator, and co-creating with such a Creator, will bring peace that abounds “until the moon is no more.” Consider that kind of reign/rain. It calls for an action not just on the king’s part, but on our part, as well.
When we really examine the other gods we follow, whether they are politicians or pundits or newscasters or friends who comment on social media, what do we notice? Are they speaking, or acting, as instruments of peace? Of unity? Of the common good? For those of us who are Christian, do they uphold what we know to be Gospel values? Do those we choose as our leaders demonstrate an allegiance to a God of love, to the Prince of Peace, or to something else? What kind of “rain,” exactly, are they showering us with? We are responsible for the outcome. This poem of Advent suggests that we would be wise to sit up and pay attention.
Blessings ~ Rosemary
*Linn, Dennis. Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God. Paulist Press, 1994, pg. 7.
Photo credit: Pixabay
2 thoughts on “Friday, Advent Week 1: “Like Rain””
Love the imagery of “reign/rain”! Something wonderful to think about! A very thoughtful reflection filled with wisdom and wonderful. Thank you, dear one🙏.
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Thank you. Kings are definitely a theme!