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Friday, August 7, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 29

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
   ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
   worship the Lord in holy splendor.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
   the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
   the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
   and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
   the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,
   and strips the forest bare;
   and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
   the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
   May the Lord bless his people with peace! (NRSV)

Ever find yourself asking, “Is anyone in charge around here?” There seems to be plenty of hopelessness. Record numbers of Americans have stopped looking for work. Government, awash in unsustainable debt, borrows more. Every summer in Chicago the weekends bring uncontrollable violence. Two weeks ago, a friend suddenly lost her fifty-four-year-old brother and grieved with parents who never imagined such a day. Illness, job loss, violence, homelessness, loneliness. When will the floods end? Is anyone in charge around here?

In his study The Message of the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann groups the psalms into songs of “orientation,” “disorientation,” and “new” or “re-orientation,” reflecting the anxieties and joys of the different seasons of our lives. “Human experience strangely corresponds to the flow and form of these texts,” wrote Brueggemann, who heard Psalm 29 as a song of new orientation.
New orientation implies an existence after disorientation. The great promise God makes is to be with us and strengthen us on our journey through disorientation to the New Jerusalem. The psalm acknowledges a world full of fires, earthquakes, and floods but praises a God greater than all of them. That, it seems to me, is crucial. God is not asking us to wait for the arrival of another world but to seek his strength and his peace now, today. We can overcome our selfishness, our recklessness, our violence, and our grief.

Psalm 29 says there is someone in charge.

Dear God, you have created our world and everything in it. We celebrate your power and listen for your voice. Guide us out of our disorientation, and strengthen us every day to remake the world and serve your peace. Amen.

Written by Andy McGaan, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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