In early January I began feeling restless when thinking about pondering on scripture and writing my reflections. I felt like I had gotten into a rut, and was simply rephrasing and emphasizing scripture passages. Last time I felt like this, I decided to create a new blog and move from “A Simple Desire” to this blog, “Pondering From the Pacific”. It worries me, beloved reader, that I am restless again. But maybe it should not. Maybe being “restless” means it is time for me to explore different ways about thinking and talking about scripture. I had determined, early in January, to talk more about my thinking has lead when I read scripture, and less about “parroting” the scripture back to you, beloved reader. But I would fall into the “trap” of feeling the beauty of the words written, and let that be as far as my thinking went. I wanted to write in my own voice, not the scripture writer. After all, that is why a started a new blog; to write about the intersection point of scripture and daily living. But if it is all about scripture, there is no intersection.
“Preacher & Seeker” were one way to get outside of myself; but after awhile they started to sound like the “old” me. And when they did not, I felt like I was hiding behind a construct; and worse yet, trapped by it. The psalms were the hardest to speak to without preaching, and using “Preacher & Seeker” turned into “hear this, insert brief comment, hear that, insert brief comment.”
So here we are, at the psalms passage. And I have no idea which direction to go. I am in a word, stuck. I will try, however, to clear out the roadblock and move forward.
“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)
The psalmist says he will give thanks “in the company of the upright.” If we take him at his word, that means in a comfortable and familiar place, with people who think as he does. Kind of like here, within my blog. It seems as much as I try to controversial, I strike a “pleasing chord” and it melds into what others have said.
“Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.” (Verse 2)
That is in congregations; faith circles that are well established. Even IF it is a faith circle that does not share your beliefs and is therefore controversial to you, within each individual faith circle there is really new and radical stuff. In current society, the new and radical is shouted down and those who caused the ruffling of feathers find more amiable places with people who think like them. This is true in both religious and non-religious circles. I am not accusing or condoning – just starting fact.
“Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.” (Verses 3 – 6)
The Israelites (that is, the ancient called and chosen people) depended heavily on Yahweh backing them up 100%. Knowing the favor of the Lord was upon them at first made them brave enough to become a distinct people. But over time they became complacent, and then slipped in being faith to the spirit and intent of their faith. The psalmist is very steeped in the assurance.
“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.” (Verses 7 – 9)
Being complacent- that is, feeling assurance that you are doing the right thing from generation to generation because you are following in the footsteps of the previous generation – is actually a dangerous thing. If those around you and those who came before you did a thing, the reasoning goes, then it must be all right for you to do it. But what if small errors crept in? And those errors became confirmed, which lead to more wrong thinking?
Every once in a while you have to raise your head up from traditional thinking and ways, and make sure you are headed in the correct direction. I get this image of “the company of the upright, in the congregation” actually bending forward at the waist with their hand on the back of the person in front of them and simply following the one before them.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.” (Verse 11)
Fearing something means that you keep your eye on it; watching it & seeing where it goes and what it does. Now we know that fear of the Lord is not shivering and quaking that your body/being is going to be harmed. It is having acute awareness and proper respect for the Divine.
The psalmist may have shared his words of praise in a group, but I think it most likely that he expected each individual to consider him/her self, and keep themselves reoriented to it wisdom and value.
I am hoping, beloved reader, to be more aware when I write and not fall back on to old and former patterns. I want to ponder anew, not just remember what I have said in the past. It will be a spiritual discipline, I am sure. And it will actually require me to pay more attention to scripture, and to the Holy Presence that guides me. Shalom & Selah!