The words I needed to hear this week...

1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

It has been a bit of a week, to put it mildly, with two so-called world leaders engaging in a nuclear-themed pissing contest and with unashamed racists marching in the streets and driving through peaceful counter-protesters. 

While reading through the lectionary choices for today, my eyes settled on the following words, and in a form of lectio divina, kept returning to them again and again. 

from Psalm 85:10: 
Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
and Romans 10:8 (also Deuteronomy 30:14): 
“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart” 
But the way to these words was not easy. At the end of the first reading into today’s lectionary section, Elijah is told by God that 7,000 faithful Israelites will be spared, but the rest destroyed. 

It’s the kind of comment by God that would give an End-Timer a hard-on. 

(Sidebar: OK, this story is one of my husband’s favorites because God is found not in the earthquake or the fire, but in sheer silence (or still, small voice) — and I wanted to go there, but it was not to be this week.)

This is followed by selected verses from Psalm 85, which is all about Godly sunshine and light, and you have to wonder what crack the lectionary committee was smoking. Or do they assume they’ll be among the 7,000 saved?

One should probably read the whole psalm.  It is not all sweetness and light for the psalmist. The writer is calling out to be saved. Or giving thanks for being saved. Apparently, the Hebrew verb tense is not at all clear.

Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

could be present:

Mercy and truth are meeting together; *
righteousness and peace are kissing each other.

or future:

Mercy and truth will meet together; *
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

And it is there I rested. Not knowing if I will be one of those spared the literal fallout of this latest international brouhaha, but wanting, needing, mercy, truth, righteousness and peace.

And where to find it? In the midst of Paul’s paraphrase of Deuteronomy:

“The word is near you, 
on your lips and in your heart”

God is not so far away, not distant, but within us. No matter what fire and fury rains down on us, or not, or with the next political/social catastrophe (which is already upon us), God is within us, to give us peace. 

But God/Moses/Paul is not calling for passivity or silence. For the word is also on our lips. This is an action, a prophetic action. As we head toward deeper relationship with God, we speak truth (and do other life-sustaining actions) so that those who are hurt and oppressed can find their freedom, and those who have turned away from God’s will and seek to oppress and hate instead of love will cease their oppression and turn back to God.

Resting with God in our heart and behaving like prophets (aka speaking God’s word) won’t make our suffering any less, but perhaps it will ease our souls and hearts, knowing God is in this mess right along with us.

Mercy and truth have met
Righteousness and peace will kiss
Mercy and truth are meeting

God is within us.

I was going to end it there, but I came across this incredible prayer written by a seminarian who was in Charlottesville yesterday. Pray it with me.


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