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June 1, 2021

Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Written by: Julia Smolucha

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 1 (adapted from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
And you shall be like a tree planted
by streams of water,
that bears fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither—
and in all that you do you prosper.

An Opening Word
Psalms speak to us. Psalms are both prayer to God, and God’s inevitable answer. Psalms hold a wrestling within them, never letting human suffering take a back seat and always asking God the important questions like, “How Long, O Lord.” In the psalms we hear the divine as we crack open the bible to it’s very middle and drink deep of our core theological identity. This 100 day devotional will cover portions of the first 100 of the 150 Psalms, leaning on Robert Alter’s translation published in 2007.

It will also open us up to the mystics. I have been studying the mystics this year as part of my Prayer in Uncertainty project, and I keep coming across this Karl Rahner quote that says, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” Mysticism is “the art of union with God,” as Carl McColeman describes it (whose “Big Book of Christian Mysticism” is surprisingly enticing, for a book with such a hokey title). That “union” or connection with the divine is, at least for me, the core of why Kenilworth Union gathers.

Below is a prayer from Julian of Norwich, who (according to her incredible biographer Grace Jantzen) “is full of unquenchable desire, longing for that which is yet to be brought about” (Isn’t that us, too? Longing for a future which is still yet on the horizon?). Julian “longs for God” and she is “longing to long for God.” (That also sounds like us). During her lifetime, several waves of the plague swept across Norwich, and Julian’s writings show “a deep sensitivity to suffering and dying” and “persistent questioning of why suffering should be permitted at all in a universe loved by God.” See why the mystics are calling to us? They know this road. They see us. They have words for us that speak across the centuries.

Prayer from the Mystics: Julian of Norwich (1343–1416)
God, of your goodness,
give yourself to me;
for you are enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less than
what fully honors you.
And if I do ask anything less,
then I will always be in want,
for only in you do I have everything.
Amen.

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Daily Devotional
I have been studying the mystics this year as part of my Prayer in Uncertainty project...That connection with the divine is, at least for me, the core of why Kenilworth Union gathers.