Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy are the people who know the festal shout, Psalm 89

Psalm 89: 8, 15
8 Who is like you, LORD God of hosts? *
O mighty LORD, your faithfulness is all around you.

15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout! *
they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.
From this morning's Daily Office, (morning prayer) we read a portion of Psalm 89.  The two verses that jumped out for me were verse 8 and verse 15.  Specifically, the sense in 8 that the Lord's faithfulness is all around him.  Faithfulness can be understood in part as something that we might "have," that is, that we might have Faith in amounts strong or weak, we might "possess" faith in God, or perhaps in things of this world.  Much of Christianity is, of course, built on the foundation of the believers' faith.

But this other type of faithfulness is the faithfulness of God, that God is faithful to the Covenants that he set down with our forefathers and foremothers, that God was faithful in the past, and is faithful in the present, and will be ever faithful in the future.  God's faithfulness in his love for us really imparts our own faith in God.  In the Psalm, verse 8 paints a picture of faithfulness surrounding God on every side.  This wrapping up of God in faithfulness is evocative and fascinating.

In verse 15, the psalmist lifts up the sense that people should be happy in their worship, that there is a radical joy and happiness in believing and in worshiping God in community.  These faithful people walk in the light of God's presence and are not gloomy or burdened.  Or, even through their gloominess and burdens, they know that God will be faithful, that God will give them joy and happiness even in the darkest times - that God is with them, and they respond with joy.

It can be easy to drop into our gloom and burdens.  If, like me, you spend time in your car, driving from place to place, dropping off family members young and old, getting stuck in traffic and dealing with aggressive behavior, you may drop into gloom or grumpiness.  We can turn into mere "ants marching" (as Dave Matthews describes us), going on to our jobs, gloomily moving from place to place, with our ears jammed into our phones and our hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel.

So, where is our Joy, where is our Happiness, where is the sense of walking in the light presence of God?  I believe it is there for us, but we may need to turn a bit, we may need to take a bit of time, perhaps cut off the radio and the cell phone, perhaps find ways to really seek the sky, the nature, and even the cars all around us.  When Moses encountered the Burning Bush, he had to turn aside, and take the time to see and experience God's presence in that unlikely place - we also may need to turn aside, to cease our "ant-like" marching - so we may walk with joy and happiness.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

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