Word, Share, Prayer: Read the scripture, share what you heard (with someone or in a journal) and then pray. Simple. Meaningful. Get a wordier description from by Psalm 6 blog post.
Liturgy writing exercise: Similar to ‘word, share, prayer’ but what makes this a little different is that the intention is to have something ready for worship. I mentioned in the Psalm 102 blog that I did a liturgy writing exercise with the Third Church Session in February 2020. We didn’t have time to do a lot of editing but maybe you do. Edit until you like what you have. Don’t forget to read it aloud.
Lectio Divina (Divine Reading): This one is difficult for me. No writing. No analyzing. Just a calm state of mind, reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. I’ve recorded an example below that includes some calming background noise I found on youtube by searching “silent watcher“. These videos run for hours, so if you need some background noise that isn’t music while you are working from home…I picked rain/river since it was already raining outside. The sound will play for a few seconds and then you will hear me read Psalm 46:10 “Be Still and Know that I am God”. I will read it four times, and then read it again taking out a word each time until the last “be”. There will be 30 seconds of the rain, then I will pray. It ends with 30 more seconds of rain.
Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 143:
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Psalm 143 is one of seven of the penitential psalms or individual laments (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143). These psalms start with a desperate prayer that is so passionate you can imagine the person wailing and angry crying. Then suddenly, the tone changes and there is certainty that God will bring deliverance; there is hope and joy.
“In Psalms 143 and 130, the confession of unrighteousness takes the place of any claims of righteousness or integrity. Not “on account of my integrity” or “I have sinned,” but “all are sinners.” That is why these texts are so important for Paul’s argument that there is no justification based on human righteousness (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:6).” From Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Psalms by James L. Mays p. 433. In Year D, Psalm 143 is paired with Galatians 2:1-14. Verse 6 in the CEV says, “Some of them were supposed to be important leaders, but I didn’t care who they were. God doesn’t have any favorites! None of these so-called special leaders added anything to my message.” God does not have favorites or better, we are all favorites in God’s heart. We can’t earn that love.
The Hymn based on Psalm 143 is “When Morning Lights the Eastern Skies” which is #250 in the Presbyterian Hymnal (Blue). It shares the same tune (St. Stephen) with #390 “O Savior, in this Quiet Place” which is a hymn used in healing services. In Year D, the Gospel (John7:14-39) and the Old Testament (Ezekiel 47:1-12) passages have to do with healing, water, temple (for our purposes maybe we can say sanctuary). Maybe I’m noticing that because I still have water sounds playing in the background.
Ezekiel 47:12 “On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” The virus and the quarantine do not cancel love. Joy is not canceled. Neither is peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Earlier today, I virtually attend a group that I’ve been meaning to attend in person for a while but the stars never aligned for me to get to the gathering. “Interfaith Spiritual Leaders: We Have to Talk” began as a series of gatherings shortly after the Tree of Life shooting. These events are hosted by Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the Center for Loving Kindness. Twenty-five or so of us gathered today on a zoom meeting to talk about our experiences, to be vulnerable, to share truth, to send healing energy and fill the world with loving-kindness. The mosaic of faces on my screen transformed into a stained glass window with the faces of the dearest holy people, their children and pets. Music filled that holy space as some of those gathered intoned prayers from their traditions or sang hymns inspiring hope. Poetry, scripture, and prayer were read as silent hands waved applause in solidarity to words ancient and new. The water that flowed from this sanctuary refreshed us, so that we might bear fruit for food and leaves for healing.
Let us pray:
Based on the words of 2 Timothy 1:7
Holy God, you did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Help us to not be afraid but fill us with love, so that we can transform a virus of fear into one of compassion. Give us living water bubbling up within us. Cultivate our hearts to bare good fruit for the healing of this world. Amen.
If this was fun (or if you are staying in with nothing else to do), you can do the same type of reflection for the other individual laments (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 130).
I would be happy to receive recordings of Psalm readings or prayers that you would like to offer for use in the blog and “worship like experiences” our congregation.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Be still and know. Breath out. That I am God. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
Wash your hands. 😉