Thursday, September 9, 2021 (Day 96)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 96 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless God’s name,
Bring tidings every day of God’s rescue.
Recount among the nations God’s glory,
among all the peoples God’s wonders.
For great is the Lord and most praised,
awesome is God over all the gods.

An Opening Word
Today’s Psalm is one of joy. Sing to the Lord. Sing to the Lord. Sing. Sing. Sing. It welcomes the new, invites the earth to sing, and asks us to offer blessing to God (which though seemingly backward, has a ring to it that I appreciate: when we feel the joy and renewal of God, we offer blessing back, reciprocal blessings abound). It is a refresh, a reset, a reminder that there are (or will be) days when a song arises within and between us.

Today’s mystic is Hagar. If you remember your biblical literature, Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarah (of Abraham and Sarah) who bore Abraham a son. While she was still pregnant, she and Sarah had a fight (Sarah was jealous of Hagar’s pregnancy), and Hagar escaped to the desert. While she was there, Hagar had an encounter with God: a blessing, a naming of her son to be born, a peek into the future that was yet to unfold. In response she called the Lord, “El-roi” (the One who sees me). She felt seen. She felt some powerful presence, enough that the who/what that she encountered needed a name. She was the first person in scripture to offer a name for God. One person called her the first Black female mystic, a powerful epitaph these days. Poet and theologian Charlotte Gordon suggests that “by fleeing to the Negev and allowing the unknown into her life Hagar had demonstrated that she was willing and able to experience the mystery of the divine and the loneliness of the prophet…God had allowed her to pierce through what one medieval mystic called the ‘cloud of unknowing” and actually perceived God.”

Prayer from the Mystics: Hagar (Genesis 16:13)
So Hagar named the Lord
who spoke to her,
“You are El-roi”
(the One who sees me)
for she said,
“Have I really seen God
and remained alive
after seeing?”

May we see and be seen. Amen.