When I began this meditation on the psalms seven weeks ago, I thought it would welcome the wide array of emotions that I know are in these ancient songs. Those emotions are there in the other texts in these Sundays but the psalms seemed to hit only one or two notes.
I thought it might be something else when I imagined this thing without looking too closely at the texts before I began. I thought there would be room for anger and frustration. I thought we could work through some of the emotions that hang heavy on us in this pandemic and that’s not what it feels like has happened. I’m not sure if I should be sad about that.
I am a little just as I’m confused that we are pushed to find delight here. That is not an emotion that feels comfortable at this moment. I want it to be but it doesn’t feel like that is what comes easily. I’m leaning into this possibility in this prayer.
I don’t know exactly where it should go in worship but trust that you will find the place where it might work best. Maybe it’s an invocation. Or maybe it’s tweaked to be something with a little response for the call to worship. You know what it needs to be, dear pastor. I know you do.
Prayer for Delight Inspired by Psalm 37:1-11 Delight has not been our companion in these days. Our hearts have struggled to find delight. Our hearts have fretted and gotten upset more times than we would like to count. We have worried. O God, how we have worried. Still, we have not allowed ourselves to delight. We have been so upset about all that has gone wrong and that has not faded but we need to release this anger. We need to let go of our rage and welcome your presence. We cannot force it. Delight does not come because we insist on it. It comes, instead, with the sound of laughter and tapping feet. It comes in the unexpected wonder of being together. It comes when we forget why we were so upset. It comes and this is our prayer today. Delight comes in your presence, O God. It comes. O God, this is our hope. Be here with us in this moment. We need you here with us. We delight in you, O God. We delight in your presence.
Of course, there are other gifts to help plan your worship with this psalm. The Living Psalms project offers this retelling of the psalm. As is true of every prayer I’ve ever found from New Zealand, I adore this centering prayer. I just love it and I might just read it to myself in all of the days ahead.
It was surprisingly hard to find a song that was full of joy. And that’s what what I wanted to pair with this meditation on delight. I wanted something that would makes us feel like getting up and dancing. After all, if we cannot sing in these pandemic days, we can at least dance even if we are six feet away. We can dance with joy for God’s presence in our worship.
I’m not sure the lyrics quite fit but there will be joy. Good God, there will be delight.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
I am praying for you, dear pastor. I’m praying for you so much.
One thought on “Pandemic Psalms for Seventh Sunday after Epiphany”
And such a different take this year in the Living Psalms:
Psalm 37:1-11 Maria Mankin
A friend writes to tell me about New York
in the winter. Not the city, the hubbub, or the shut downs,
but the country lanes, the skeletal branches that yawn
and stretch as the days grow longer.
She writes about the steel sky on stormy mornings
and how she dives into the blue when it returns.
Those days, she tells me, are a lifeline to a spring
that seems never-coming. When it snows,
she pulls on boots and walks in the silence,
but some days, the clouds press in,
and the wind cuts to the bone. Some days,
there is no sign of green, of new life,
of hope. Then, winter is alive, a beast
stalking round her home, all bite,
an endless, deadening roar.
When will it end, she asks, having moved from San Diego
when the days were still long and hot, when the green
was so deep in the fields that it felt like an exhalation
of God. I don’t want to be the one to tell her that
ice may coat branches in May, that the scent of rich
brown earth is too far for wishes or prayers to reach.
Find the oranges, I say instead. Buy kiwi, grapefruit,
lemons, and sweet little finger limes. Buy tart sunshine,
if you can, from the other side of the country, or the world.
Buy the scent of blossoming trees, and the toil of laborers,
and let it remind you of your place in the garden.
Let it remind you too of the strength and generosity
of this earth, and of the people willing to tend it.
Let the taste of it fill you with gratitude, even if only
for a moment. The moment is what we have.
Now, take a breath. Take a breath and praise God
for every bit of joy squeezed out of the days.
Pray, with the juice of joy on your lips,
for every sorrow that you hold close.
The hope may be taken from us, but never
the prayer that it will return.