There were only two of us at “Lunch with the Psalms” yesterday and the psalm of the day (Ps. 68) was long. Although only part of it showed up in the lectionary, we read and reflected on the entire content – not exhaustively, of course, but meaningfully nevertheless. We looked at the New International Version (NIV) because our first read was the poetic variation in Ancient Songs Sung Anew and it was so lyrical and modern-sounding that we wondered how similar the two would be. We found them to be more alike than expected and were quite taken by the vivid images used by the psalmist to create such a strong and hopeful vision of both the earthly realm and the heavenly kingdom – especially in the title which one of us saw as God’s chariot speeding across the sky and the other imaged as a white steed with God astride, garments and hair flowing behind and light illuminating everything. It was a great moment of touching into the imaginal world to bring God’s presence and power close to us.
I was reminded of all this when I saw that the latter part of Psalm 68 was the response to today’s first lectionary reading – not a repetition but an addition to yesterday – so I invite you to join us for the beginning and the end of God’s trek across the heavens. Both ends of the psalm are written as a call to this awesome God in praise and supplication from those who yearn for the peaceable kingdom. See if you can catch the Spirit!
Rise up within our midst, O God, then everything but you will vanish, our enemies disappearing from sight. Like smoke on wind, like wax before a burning blaze, evil itself will cease before the white light of your gaze. For everyone in right relationship to you is filled with overflowing joy, and music fills the space where you abide, and singing rises to your nameless name, O Holy One who rides the heavens. For you inhabit your high holiness as if it were a dwelling place, yet parent orphans and defend all those alone in life…(vs. 1-5)
Let everything be offered up in praise and prayer from East and West and North and South their voices raised. O Rider of the powers of heaven and earth, send forth a voice, a mighty voice. Awaken us to majesty beyond all time. Restore us to our ancient strength again, so we may say, how great your deeds, O God, O Holy One who rides the heavens. (vs. 33-36)