Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Be still

I led our church zoom prayer meeting this morning on Psalm 24 (in my mind from the last post). What two challenges it gives:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. That when all the things that seemed permanent and certain in our lives come crashing down God remains permanent and certain.  It puts God first order.  When life bubbles along with all our normal priorities God can often be relegated down the order - 3rd, 4th, or lower as work, family, leisure take first place. But when everything is shaken up we should get the order right. God first. And he does not secure us against the virus but is with us in the virus. Especially, as Easter people, with the risen Jesus promising that he will be with us always (yes, in the virus).  Therefore we will not fear. 

Be still and know that I am God and I will be exalted among the the earth.  This is one of those rare times when God speaks directly to us in a psalm.  And what a critical command this is.  For we cannot place God in first place without being still.  Quietness and stillness is the path to knowing God. That ought to be a little easier for us in lock down.

In our prayer time Carol read from Jonathan Aitken's Psalms for People under Pressure.  A cabinet minister he was sent to prison for perjury where he encountered God more deeply. When he was released he wrote this book about the psalms with personal notes.  On Psalm 46 he comments that for most of his 57 years he was too busy to follow the key advice of Be Still.  But when he went to prison he discovered a cell can be a good place to pray.  Between dawn and the prison officers shouting out :Unlock! Everybody out! at 7:30 a.m.'I first discovered how to be still before the Lord, how to listen to him, be in awe of him and to get to know him'

This morning we prayed his prayer.
O Lord God, you are our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Help us not to be afraid when we are caught in a crisis or a catastrophe. Give us the strength to see that your life-giving streams of love flow through even the worst of disasters and will sustain us.  In the worst of our troubles help us to heed the wisdom of this psalm and to obey its command: Be still and know that I am God. In the stillness we offer you, may we hear your voice and know your will, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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