Is there anyone else who is frightened about the current state and future of our country? The fact that a want-to-be leader publicly attacks Pope Francis and still manages to rise in the polls is truly frightening. What does this say about the people of the U.S.? Do we really want to be this angry day in and day out? In my moments of despair, I think about moving to another country, but I don’t think escape is the right answer.
We may call ourselves Christian, but do we read the Bible? The Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) clearly describes prophets whose role was to call the king to task when he and his nation were behaving in ways contrary to the promises they had made to their God. In the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus, himself, call us to repent of all the injustices for which we are responsible. Prophets in our own time, for example, Desmond Tutu or Martin Luther King, Jr., challenge us to examine our lives and our societies and make amends for racial and economic injustices. Pope Francis’ statement about building bridges instead of walls lies squarely in this prophetic tradition.
The words of my prayer this morning followed in the tradition of the laments in the Book of Psalms. I described my fears to God and asked for protection and deliverance for my country. In the Readers’ Guide of the New American Bible (2011), Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA, describes psalms of lament this way:
Laments are usually comprised of an invocation directed toward God; the actual lament or complaint that describes the suffering endured by the one(s) praying; a pleas for deliverance from this misfortune; some kind of praise of God, often an expression of confidence that God will come to the rescue of the community or the individual; a vow to perform an act of worship in gratitude for God’s intervention. Some laments also include an acknowledgment of guilt or an assertion of innocence. Finally, there is frequently a curse hurled against those believed to be responsible for the intolerable situation that precipitates the lament. This last feature has caused considerable difficulty for those who wish to use the psalms in their own prayer. (p. 244)
I chose Psalm 27:1-6, 14 to be my prayer today. It is a psalm about trusting God to deliver us from the current state of affairs. How do we learn to trust God and to trust each other? How do we learn to be trustworthy ourselves? The psalmist asserts boundless hope that God will bring rescue. He longs for the presence of God in the temple and protection from all enemies. The psalm begins this way:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Tim Manion has set Psalm 27 to music in “This Alone.” (You can find a YouTube video of this hymn by googling the title and composer.)
This Alone by Tim Manion (1981)
One thing I ask, this alone I seek,
To dwell in the House of the Lord all my days.
For one day within Your temple heals every day alone.
O Lord, bring me to Your dwelling.
- Hear, O Lord, the sound of my calling.
Hear, O Lord, and show me Your way.
- The Lord is my light and hope of salvation.
The Lord is my refuge; whom should I fear?
- Wait on the Lord and hope in His mercy.
Wait on the Lord and live in His love.
I leave you with these words, as much for me, as for you:
Wait for the Lord, take courage; Be stouthearted, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)