1st Sunday After Trinity

Let us pray.

Our souls are athirst for you.

Pour your goodness over us

As a rapid and a flood.

Amen.

……………………

The Psalms are a really underrated book of the Bible.

We generally read them together in worship.

Sometimes, we even sing them!

But too often, we’re not really paying attention to what we’re saying.

Preachers rarely choose the Psalm as the preaching text of the day.

There’s always something more interesting to be found in the

Journeys of Elijah

Or something Jesus says in the Gospel,

Or a tricky doctrine Paul’s expounding his one of his letters.

The Psalms are expressed so beautifully,

So poetically,

That we run the risk of over-explaining them

And destroying that poetry.

“As the deer longs for the water brooks

So longs my soul for you God”

Can become

“God, I’m thirsty.”

But the Psalms are the Prayerbook of the Bible.

They express the deepest longings

Lodged deep in the most secret corners of our heart.

They offer words when our prayers

Are sighs too deep for words.

Martin Hattersley,

A priest in this diocese,

Whose daughter was tragically murdered,

Has said that his greatest source of comfort in grief

Has been the Psalms.

The anger they often express,

The challenging, controversial imprecatory Psalms,

Which call for the destruction of our enemies,

Give us permission to cast every care upon God,

Even those cares we would never dare to say aloud.

Psalm 42 lays out some of those cares.

The Psalmist expresses a longing for God

As fervent as a wild animal’s longing for water

In a dry and weary land.

Imagine: you are lost in the desert.

Have been lost, for several days.

You’re out of supplies,

And you haven’t seen anyone who can help.

You can see the oasis ahead,

And you fear it’s a mirage –

In your mind, all your friends are mocking you,

They say it’s a mirage,

You’re a fool for trusting the image –

But your longing continues.

You can’t help but remember

Better times,

When you were surrounded by those who shared your feelings,

When you were able to go into the house of God

And celebrate festivals with all the pomp and circumstance

Of a Royal Wedding.

And so you chastise yourself.

You ask your soul why it is so full of heaviness and disquieted.

You remind yourself that God’s love

Isn’t just a still pool

In the middle of the desert.

It overwhelms you,

Like a rushing cataract.

If you open yourself up to God,

You will find the rapids and floods

Overflow.

Now that’s a Psalm worth taking a look at.

I think that for many of us,

There are times when we feel lost in that desert.

We imagine that we are being mocked and jeered

For daring to have hope in a cynical age.

It’s hard to imagine earnest desire

For a God who hasn’t unambiguously shown himself in ages

Ever being considered cool.

We thirst.

Like as the deer.

But God is always there.

Not always in the way we expect him to show up.

Elijah expected God to show up with power and might.

Elijah expected that God would punish those who had mocked him,

Would prevent Jezebel from having the power

To murder God’s prophets.

He expected to meet God in a wind so strong

It split mountains

And broke rocks into pieces,

But the Lord was not in the wind.

He expected to meet God in an earthquake

That overturns the world,

Like the earthquake at Christ’s resurrection,

But the Lord was not in the earthquake.

He expected to meet God in a fire,

But the Lord was not in the fire.

The Lord appeared to Elijah

In a sound of sheer silence.

A sound of sheer silence.

God almighty

Has the whole world in his hands

And can bend the whole universe to his will

And yet chooses to appear

In a sound of sheer silence.

It’s no wonder that that same God

Chooses to defeat death

By dying.

And so when we are lost in the desert,

When we are surrounded by mockers

And those who think we are fools

For remembering the rushing cataracts of God’s love

In an age where the world shows so little love,

We remember that God is always with us,

Ready to be seen,

As soon as we know how to look.

Not in the place of perfect power

But in the sound of sheer silence.

I invite you to join me in praying through the Psalms this summer.

You could follow the lectionary for the Daily Office,

Found in the green BAS.

If you want to start with Evening Prayer tonight,

You’ll find the Psalms appointed on page 478,

Psalms 19 and 46.

You could look at the Weekly Round Up,

And pray the Psalm for the coming Sunday over and over.

Next week’s will be Psalm 77.

You could listen to musical settings –

YouTube has a whole lot of them!

I invite you to join me in seeking after God

With a thirst as fierce

As a deer

Who longs for water.

Consider the power of the Psalms

As an aid to prayer.

How do they speak to our prayers and longings today?

How do they put our sighs too deep for words

Into poetry so powerful,

It has been prayed daily by Christians

For two millennia.

The Lord is waiting.

Come and seek his face.

Not to be found where we expect,

But in the sound of sheer silence,

In the delight of poetry

That calls his name.

Amen.