The Week of March 22-28, 2020
This is the longest of the Psalms of Ascent. At first glance, it didn’t do much for me – all those references to temples and worship and priests clothed in righteousness. It felt formal and holy, like a cathedral. It felt orderly and predictable, like a prayer book. And these days, nothing feels orderly, predictable, formal, or terribly holy. These days, things feel messy, chaotic, unknowable, and wild.
Then I took a closer look.
The Psalm has three movements:
In the first movement, the Psalmist asks God to remember David and the courage and desire he had to create a place where God would dwell among his people – the temple.
In the second movement, the Psalmist, having reminded God of the temple’s creation story, asks God to rise up and fill it. Fill it with might. Fill it with power. Clothe the priests in righteousness and fill the people with joy.
Why would the Psalmist pray such a prayer if everything was orderly and predictable? If God seemed powerful and present? If the leaders were trustworthy, holy and good? If the people were shouting out to God with joy?
Finally, it is God’s turn to speak, the third movement of the Psalm. God answers by giving the Psalmist this beautiful assurance: not only will God come and fill his dwelling place, but God will do so abundantly – blessing the provisions, giving food to the poor, saving the leaders from themselves, and giving back the people their joy.
The Psalmist offers us a template for our own prayers in this time of insecurity. We can cry out all we want and need to. But let us remember: this whole earth is God’s dwelling place. God has not forgotten us. God promises us covenant love, a kind of love that unmakes and remakes us, a kind of love that blesses our loaves and fishes so we can share with the poor, a kind of love that saves us from ourselves and restores our joy.
In the face of pain, the people of Israel cried out to God. They had a prophetic imagination that held both their suffering and God’s solidarity in the same gaze:
they kept waiting,
they kept moving,
they kept watching,
they kept praying;
they lifted up their eyes to the hills.
It is not all up to us. There are these spiritual realities – God, the heavenly hosts, the saints who have gone before us, our ancestors – all there for us, wanting to help us, strengthen us, come to our aid. There is an abundant wealth of support available for us at this time to help us through this difficult passage.
“Jesus, we believe. Help our unbelief. We lift up our eyes to you.”
Surveying to Lay Groundwork
A letter from Angela, Community Engagement Facilitator:
We are reaching out to our Southpoint Community to help direct how Anne and I and the Leadership Team plan for our church community over the next few months. We want to maintain points of connection with each other even while we hold to the necessary physical distancing. There will be ways this will be hard and I imagine there will be some gifts that emerge as we lean into this new way of being. Some days I am able to imagine that and some days I am not. We want to find ways of connecting with each other that lay groundwork for greater support in your times of need.
If you have youth in the house, please invite them to fill this out as well. We would love to have their voices included. As I am writing this I am remembering that last time we did a survey like this that only one person from each device was able to take the survey – that may be the case again, hopefully there are multiple devices accessible so that there can be many voices represented:)
Please take a few minutes and fill out this survey for us.
Doing Church Together but Apart
Maintaining Points of Connection
Anyone want to help? If anyone would like to help explore, introduce, set up and instruct greater on-line means of connection, we’d love your help!
The Church at Southpoint – an open site
Church at Southpoint Friendship Bench – a private page for local attendees
If you have a special need be in touch with your Gathering Group Facilitator; this is a time for our neighbourhood tables to care for each other!
Do contact Anne, if you are feeling the weight and are looking for a safe place to chat and pray.
Ask for Prayer
The prayer chain is in full swing. You’re encouraged to contact John Hardy with requests for prayer.
Add to the Southpoint News
If you have an announcement for the newsletter, please send it fully prepared and edited by Tuesday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for this week’s worship-in-place materials by Friday: a combo of liturgy, psalm and some suggestions for engagement. Feedback is welcome and share with us how you use them! Answer the survey (link given above) to help direct us how to serve your needs in the weeks ahead as we continue to worship-in-place.
Longing for Mental Thriving
Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries recognizes the need for access to online mental health resources in this season, and is making The Sanctuary Course available for free. Use the code “mentalhealth” at checkout to receive a 100% discount for the next month (discount code expires April 18, 2020).
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
We sing these words often together, reminding us that we are hemmed in on all sides by Christ’s presence. A comfort as we cocoon deeper into compassionate solitude.
I love this prayer/poem/song. My English Literature professor in university, an Anglican priest, would have us sing it together before class began. It has been one of my favourites ever since.
Did you know that these lyrics are part of a much longer ancient prayer attributed (most likely incorrectly) to St. Patrick? Written in the the pattern of a Druidic incantation, the prayer encircles a person undertaking a difficult journey with protection. The longer prayer names many powers, yet Christ is the One who surrounds in a complete circle.
Christ, be with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
For your curiosity and exploration, here’s the complete prayer from Wikipedia. I particularly like the bits that draw in the presence and power of creation.
And here are few musical renditions:
This is the one we sang in my class, the way the English sing it – link
This is the way the Irish sing it:) – link