Saturday, September 11, 2021 (Day 98)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 98 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for wonders God has done…
Let the sea and its fullness thunder,
the world and those dwelling in it.
Let the rivers clap hands,
let the mountains together sing gladly before the Lord,
for God comes to judge the earth.
God judges the world in justice and peoples righteously.
An Opening Word
If you’ve missed live music during the pandemic, the stadiums of people filling up to listen, the orchestra halls crowded to experience the power of voice and instrument harmonizing, then Psalm 98 is for you. You get a glorious sound unlike any other: the thundering of the sea, the clapping of the rivers, the mountains singing. This is a divinely ostentatious concert, one of opulence and grandeur unlike any we might imagine. The earth’s orchestra praises the Lord with a new song. Beyoncé might top the charts in this century, but this earth-song has been #1 for millennia. It is a song you can hear at the surging shore of Lake Michigan, or the snow peaked mountain tops of the Rockies (or maybe in your own backyard when the lawn mowers and leaf blowers are finally silenced in the late evening). And it speaks of renewal, restoration, a new song rooted in the God who has been with us all along.
Today’s mystic writing comes from the Philokalia, an anthology of mystic writings compiled by a Greek monk, Nikodimos, and the Bishop of Corinth, Makarios in 1782. The Philokalia is a collection of all the unpublished writings of Christian hermits who influenced the Eastern church, especially the Greek orthodox faith. It was first collected in Greek but was later translated into Slavic. It was the sacred text carried by the pilgrim in the Russian book “The Way of the Pilgrim,” and inspired Russian writers like Dostoevsky. One of the reasons it is treasured in the East and in the West is because it features specialized breathing and posture techniques for praying. Pairing embodied prayer with intellect, these writings have a holistic approach to human nature, and recognize the many ways we might encounter the divine.
Prayer from the Mystics: The Philokalia
Blessed is the intellect that,
undistracted in its prayer,
acquires an ever greater longing for God.
May we long for God. Amen.