Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 (Day 15)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 15 (adapted from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Lord, who will sojourn in Your tent,
Who will dwell on Your holy mountain?
The one who walks blameless
And does justice
And speaks the truth in their heart.

An Opening Word
Who will sojourn to God’s tent? Nature lovers, camping enthusiasts, hikers, field scouts, campground hosts, wilderness guides, camp counselors, cabin caretakers, ridgerunners, sherpas, outdoor gear testers, trail maintenance workers, conservationists, geologists, wilderness therapists, park rangers, foresters, field researchers. They will sojourn to God’s tent. We will sojourn to God’s tent.

This tent metaphor pairs the verb “sojourn” with the word “tent” implying temporary housing, a provisional, ephemeral, non-permanent, short-lived, here-today-gone-tomorrow situation. This tent metaphor is inviting God on the dynamic, on-the-move facets of our lives. Or, rather, it is inviting us into God’s dynamic, on-the-move dwelling place. A sacred-ness that can be set up just about anywhere: rocky ground, muddy mess, cool green grass, lumpy so-many-roots-I-hope-you-brought-an-air-mattress spots. God is on the move with us, limber, with water-proof tent at the ready.

Who are we when we sojourn in God’s tent? We are the ones who walk blameless, who speak justice, who speak the truth. We live in that way because entering God’s tent changes our hearts and lives. The holy pop-up-tent of God is spacious, well ventilated, with poles that are color-coded for easy set-up, no awkward stooping, airy, no leaking. We enter in. We become our best selves, or at least are renewed to try again at being our best justice-speaking, truth-seeking, blameless lives.

I believe mystic Richard Foster would concur. He says,
“Jesus reminds us that prayer is a little like children coming to their parents. Our children come to us with the craziest requests at times! Often we are grieved by the meanness and selfishness in their requests but we would be all the more grieved if they never came to us… This is precisely how it is with prayer. We will never have pure enough motives, or be good enough, or know enough in order to pray rightly. We simply must set aside all these things and begin praying. In fact it is in the very act of prayer itself—intimate ongoing interaction with God—that these matters are cared for in due time.”

Richard Foster is a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends), whose denomination is of course, one of the 12 we honor in our stained glass windows in the church sanctuary. It is a non-creedal faith tradition, and so Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline has wings that soar across traditional denominational lines, and his writing is a comfort to people across all the insider/outsider us/the binary divisions that so often separate us.

Prayer from the Mystics: Richard Foster (b. 1942)
Gracious Jesus,
it is easier for me
to approach you
with my mind
than with my tears.
I do not know
how to pray
from the emotive center
of my life
or even how to get in touch
with that part of me.
Still, I come to you
just as I am.

June 15, 2021

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