December 16, 2022
“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms . . . .” George Santayana
Twenty-one days ago, I began this series on The Psalms of Advent with the above quotation by philosopher Santayana because his words reminded me of the depth and width of the Hebrew psalms that contain all the joy and pathos, the wide kaleidoscope, of human emotions and give them safe space to be heard and received. Over these past three weeks of Advent, we have been invited to listen to four different psalms, each one selected for worship on one of the four Sundays of the Advent Season. This series has been a pilgrimage of sorts, seeking guidance, wisdom, hope, illumination, and inspiration from ancient voices singing ancient songs in Psalms 122, 124, 42, and 80. Yesterday, I reflected on Psalm 80, which will be read in many Christian worship services this Sunday, December 18. The entire psalm may be found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2080&version=NIV.
While the psalms were, in fact, written by Hebrew poets for Hebrew people in historic, personal, and often specific Hebrew circumstances, they still speak to anyone in search of the Holy and who longs for an honest relationship with the Divine. Often what Christians claim to be prophesies of Jesus Christ in these psalms are in reality prayers for earthly kings and human messiahs. Yet, as a Christian, I do see the promises of Christ in these songs of and prayers for peace, humility, righteousness, service, sacrifice, salvation, light, and personal and corporate relationship with Yahweh, the great “I AM.” The shepherd in Psalm 80 resembles the Good Shepherd of the New Testament, the One born of blue-collar parents in a rural town under occupation by Romans, the One who taught that to love is to serve and to serve is to love, the Daystar that never quits shining no matter how dark and bleak the times might be.
So in these final days before Christmas or whatever celebration we await together, we wait and watch and remember and hope and sing and shine and say, “Amen,” which means both “So be it” and “Yes,” yes to all of life because the psalms have taught us that we are not alone in this vast and often lonely cosmos. Perhaps that assurance is the greatest miracle of all.
Thank you so very much, whoever you are and whatever you profess, for sharing this Advent pilgrimage with me, whether you followed daily or dropped in from time to time. Thank you to those who let me know you were present; your encouragement and presence blessed me. I wish each of you and all of us the wonder of the shepherds, the serenity of silent snow, and the glorious joy of the choirs of angels.
Amen and amen~ Rosemary
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