These past couple of weeks we have been surrounded by news of war and violence, by debates about pandemic safety, by our communities and nation struggling with the issues of racism and justice… Sunday’s lectionary is Psalm 27, which speaks so eloquently of the Psalmist’s alternating struggle between fear and faith, between the threats of enemies and assurance that God is present. It spoke to me in new ways when I read it this week. Whimsically and prayerfully, I have paraphrased it to speak anew in the events of today.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? (verse 1, NRSV)
When pandemics threaten
and illness is all around –
I wear masks and get vaccinations
So I protect both myself and others.
Though bombarded by horrifying news
I will not be afraid;
Though violence and wars erupt all around,
I will still trust in God’s abiding presence. (verses 2&3, paraphrased)
One thing I asked of the Lord,
that I will seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in God’s temple. (verse 4, NRSV)
For God is with us and guides us
in these challenging times;
God sustains and strengthens us
and holds us with comforting compassion.
Now God provides us with community
and moves us toward lives of peace.
Together we offer ourselves in service
with faithful intention and actions – even with joy;
let us sing and make melody to our God.
Hear us, God, when we cry out,
be gracious to us and answer us!
We search for God’s tangible presence!
Your Spirit, God, we seek.
Reveal your presence to us.
Do not condemn and judge us forever,
for you always are our hope of grace.
Do not let us feel abandoned, God;
for we know you are always with us.
If everyone around us forsakes their faith,
you, God, still are with us.
Teach us your way of love, God,
and lead us in your righteousness
so we might grow in faith and service.
Help us to follow your path of discipleship,
for we are easily tempted to despair,
and we are terrified of the possibilities of violence. (verses 5-12, paraphrased)
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (verses 13-14, NRSV)