Friday, April 3, 2020

Psalm for Sunday of the Passion 5 April 2020

Psalm 31:9-16

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
   my eye wastes away from grief,
   my soul and body also. 
For my life is spent with sorrow,
   and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
   and my bones waste away. 

I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
   a horror to my neighbours,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
   those who see me in the street flee from me. 
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
   I have become like a broken vessel. 
For I hear the whispering of many—
   terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
   as they plot to take my life. 

But I trust in you, O Lord;
   I say, ‘You are my God.’ 
My times are in your hand;
   deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 
Let your face shine upon your servant;
   save me in your steadfast love.

Reflection       What makes you feel safe? A security system and camera on your doorbell? a face mask? a gun? What makes you feel secure?  A job? A good balance of stocks and bonds in your portfolio? A pantry bulging with garbanzo beans and toilet paper? What is your place of refuge? Your office? Your garden? Your addiction to food, alcohol, shopping, drugs, sex, gambling? 

In moments such as we face today our habitual strategies for safety, security and refuge  prove supremely insufficient to thwart the path of the dangerous interloper, Covid-19. Much as misinformation is spread by clandestine adversaries through social media gone viral, coronaviruses invade us through proteins on the surface of cells in our throat, lungs and intestinal tract. Once the hidden virus sneaks its genetic material into  a cell, as the geneticist Dr. Mendenhall writes, “the cell is duped into becoming a slave to the virus.”* 

A question we face today is “How have we been duped into becoming slaves to our personal strategies for safety, security and refuge?”

No amount of bleach, toilet paper or money can inoculate us against the ravages of life. We are fragile, vulnerable and intimately interconnected. When even a well intended handshake can deliver a deadly virus, we cannot comprehend the countless ways our mere presence on this planet can harm one another. 

What then will we do?

Will we go to our well stocked and electronically protected abodes, perseverate on the news, lick our wounds and look for someone or something to blame? Or will we take this time to pause and join our psalmist calling out to God, ““Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are in trouble; * our eyes are consumed with sorrow, and also our throat and belly?” We are sick. We are dying. We are infected by mass marketing hype and poisoned by media’s misinformation. We have put our faith in consumptive strategies for safety, security and refuge and they are killing us.”

“O God, have mercy on us, for we are in trouble. Let our lives not be consumed by stuff that does not matter. Purify our hearts so that our neighbors will cease crossing the street to avoid us.  Rescue us from our toxic strategies for safety, security and refuge. Help us to make our sanctuary in you, our rock and our foundation.”

No amount of bleach, toilet paper or money can inoculate us against the ravages of life. We are fragile, vulnerable, intimately interconnected and utterly dependent on God and one another.  Let us put our times of social distancing and quarentine in the hands of our God and all of our faith in God’s faithfulness.

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