August 28, 2007

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him


I am often surprised how the daily and weekly lectionaries present precisely the right portion of God's Word when it is needed. This morning's appointed Psalm in the chart I follow was Psalm 42, wherein the Psalmist is deeply distraught, as the mocking accusation comes, "Where is your God?"

His longing is to return to the sacred liturgy, and from his captivity he remembers with sweet sorrow journeying to the Lord's altar: "These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival."

Then he counsels his own soul to take joy in one day returning: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

The one moment each week that I am truly happy is when I am granted the privilege to minister at the Lord's altar, speak the Words of Our Lord over the bread and wine, and distribute the body and blood of Jesus to the broken, hurting people who need it so. Truly that is what all the Christian life flows from and points toward as we stumble through this valley of the shadow of death.

I love Luther's introduction to this Psalm: "The psalmist ... desires to come to God's house and be comforted by the face of God. That is, he wants to truly hear God's Word, which comforts him. For God's house is that place where God's Word is, and God's face is His presence through which He makes Himself known and, by means of His Word, reveals His grace" (Reading the Psalms with Luther, pp105f).

You, O Lord, who are a God of consolation,
comfort and strengthen all struggling hearts,
and set Your bounds to the malice of their tempters and tormentors.
Preserve and lead us in that way which You have mapped out for us,
that, taking up our cross daily,
we may follow in the footprints of our Lord to eternal glory.

-Prayer from Reading the Psalms with Luther, p107

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