August 31, 2020 (Rev. Dr. Dru Johnson)
We couldn’t have picked a better psalm for this strange world we’re forging this semester than Psalm 46.
This Week’s Lectionary Readings
This Week’s Lectionary Message
This is not rocket science. We couldn’t have picked a better psalm for this strange world we’re forging this semester than Psalm 46. The psalm opens with the acknowledgment that it will, in fact, look like the world is going to pot. This isn’t inflamed rhetoric of a song-writer. Israel’s world did turn into a living hell: famine that forced cannibalism, massacres by foreign militaries, and eventually, they experienced what looked like the end of the Israelite kingdom. But the psalm’s note that “the nations rage” is met with “be still and know that I am God.”
Mark’s Gospel opens with Israel as a raging nation occupied by Rome. Israel will collapse once again after the ascension of Jesus, Jews will be killed en masse, forced out of Jerusalem, and Christians will be tortured and executed for their political allegiance to the empire of Jesus. And yet, the Israel of God (which is what Paul called “Christians”) can “cease striving,” sink in, and know their God better, a God in whom we can hide and be afraid of all the ceaseless change around us.
There is nothing seductive or hip about this. It is literally a directive to root ourselves in God’s relationship to us (not just me) and to use the terror of change and instability as reasons to know God better. If you’re anxious about all the change in our world, first, be glad that you’re not starving to the point of eating your own children (as Israelites once did in times of famine). Second, let your anxieties become indications for areas where we don’t really know God or trust Him.