This is a curious psalm
- Two opposing sentiments?
- Some scholars even suggest that this single psalm is really two works of poetry linked together. Well, what would be the point to that?
- It is not that I disagree with the scholars. My Hebrew is not strong enough to form an opinion one way or another. But what I know is that we have been handed one work. Someone, it seems, intended for us to hold these two contradictory notions together.Qualities of God:
- God will protect
- God will keep danger at bay
- Perhaps…perhaps not…
If my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me up.
• This verse provides a clue. Here trouble does not pass us by. Here is some of the worst kind of trouble. And here is the promise of God expressed by the Psalmist. Have no doubt that trouble will come. Know, however, that God is in the midst of that trouble to hold you up. It is a tenuous place, a place of longing.
• With waiting comes longing.
“Come,” my heart says ”seek his face!”
Your face, O LORD, do I seek.
The longing is this deep…to long for the thing that is just out of reach, but is as intimate as the desires of our own hearts. This is where God resides. The heart knows this when the mind cannot. The mind will puzzle and ponder and get us nowhere sometimes. But the heart…The Psalms are poetry. Only an art form like poetry could hold such contradictory ideas together. Only art can give voice to the longings of the heart in such a way.
Let’s look to Jesus now.
- Jesus and the Pharisees are having a little conversation.
- The Pharisees are not likely offering help.
- They are likely taunting Jesus.
- Jesus will go on healing anyway.
- Luke reminds us yet again of the
- very political nature of Jesus’ ministry.
- Religious politics
- State politics
Jesus has seen all of this before in the history of the Hebrew people.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to it…
Here we encounter another strange dualism. The City of Peace, God’s own promised city, the city where the Temple resides, becomes the instrument of God’s own destruction.
• Fox/Mother Hen
But here in the Gospel we have more than a statement of Dualism, the artist’s skill at holding the contradictory together…We have a response:
God’s own desire.
How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Here God’s own longing is expressed. Her we find a God who waits for us, who desires to nurture us, to shelter us…God’s waiting is the shape of our own waiting…transforms our longing.
The turn to the archetypical feminine here is Luke’s account is powerful. We no longer hear “fortress” or “stronghold.” No. Now we have an image of nurture and embrace.
And now the nature of waiting becomes a position of strength and hope – a declaration of God’s enduring presence…Jesus’ waiting is not one of passivity or weakness. It is a position of wisdom.
1Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4‘To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
The feminine enshrouded desire of God can remind us of Sofia, of Wisdom.
22The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
23Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
27When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
This passage should remind us of John’s prologue…In the beginning was the Word. The classic portrayal of wisdom is that of the feminine. And she was with God in the beginning of all things. Perhaps, Luke remembers this for us, or Jesus remembers this for us…by mothering us.
The act of waiting is a stance of wisdom…
The expression of longing…
the heart’s desire to seek God’s face
Jesus’ desire to gather us in and mother us
this is what it means to wait.
Jesus will continue to Jerusalem.
The City of Peace
And there he will meet his end.
But Jesus; desire will not be thwarted
For there is the Resurrection.
The Resurrection is God’s response to the destructive powers of Herod and of the religious leadership who would see Christ dead.
All of these threats, in the end, are in vain.
If my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me up.
This is the basis of our courage as we wait for God.
The discipline of waiting is the proclamation of God’s own desire.
Luke knows this to be true…the intention is real. And with the Psalmist we can say “The LORD will take me up.”
Waiting proclaims what is...
not what will be.
This waiting is ultimately practical.
In the face of the tragic events of this week…
- a bus spilling out onto the highway
- a school destroyed in a storm
- war and chaos
We have to tune our hearts to God’s desire and allow ourselves to be gathered in…
To be held and mothered by God.
Grace, says U2’s Bono, carries the world on her hips. Waiting for God is not a desert. Waiting is nurturing, incubation, gestation, it is being carried when we cannot continue on our own.
Waiting is a way of standing on the promises of God’s own Wisdom as She stands on the city walls and please for Her people to hearken to Her.
We wait in Wisdom.
We wait in Grace.
And She carries us along on Her hips
bearing the burdens of the world.
May God grant you Peace.
May God’s grace uphold you.
May Wisdom find you.
May She Who Stands on the Walls find you waiting.