Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 (Day 2)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 2 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Why are the nations aroused
And the peoples murmur vain things?

Kings of the earth take their stand,
and princes conspire together against the Lord
and against God’s anointed…O you kings,
pay mind, be chastened, you rulers of earth.
Worship the Lord in fear, and exult in trembling.

With purity be armed,
lest God rage and you be lost on the way.
For God’s wrath in a moment flares up.
Happy all who shelter in the Lord.

An Opening Word
I was tempted to cut to just the phrase, “happy all who shelter in the Lord,” in Psalm 2 and skip all the people murmuring things in vain and kings of the earth conspiring against God. I also wanted to skip past “lest God rage.” The raging of God seems so very uncouth. (Though, if we are made in the image of God, and we rage, then why is it so impossible to imagine God raging?). But I don’t want to shove anything under the proverbial rug, and within this psalm is something important about acknowledging the way politics can impact our individual and communal mis/fortunes and become a thing we talk to God about. So read it again, Psalm 2 in all its complicated glory.

I do honestly love that phrase about sheltering in the Lord. As we long for a world in which sheltering-in-place fades into our (hopefully very distant) memory, I’m happy to replace all my sheltering-in-place with sheltering-in-the-Lord. I suppose this Psalm brings up a complexity of emotions for me, and gives us much to ruminate on about who God is and who we are.

Below is a prayer by Gregory of Nyssa, known as one of the Cappadocians, prominent orthodox theologians from the fourth century who influenced things we still think about today, like our ideas around the Trinity. Nyssa is a semi-arid area in south central Turkey, and a famine occurred there when Gregory was about 35 years old. The church organized famine relief, scoured the streets for children orphaned by hunger, and preached sermons urging those with means to offer financial support to those in crisis. It sounds similar to the ways churches responded to COVID-19, and if we have done any of those things, we learned it from the church mothers and fathers like Gregory of Nyssa (who, of course, learned it from Jesus).

Prayer from the Mystics: Gregory of Nyssa (335–395)
Where are you pasturing your flock,
O good Shepherd,
who carries the whole flock
on your shoulders?
For the whole of human nature
is one sheep and you have lifted it
onto your shoulders.
Show me the place of peace,
lead me to the good grass that will nourish me,
call me by name so that I, your sheep,
hear your voice, and by your speech
give me eternal life.
Answer me, you whom my soul loves. Amen.

June 2, 2021

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