THEME: The psalms (our oldest “hymnal”) record the worshipping community’s earliest conversations with and about our creator God. These ancient poems show a startling ability to speak to our souls today. Psalmists tend not to hold back in expressing the full range of humanity’s joyful and painful encounters with questions of faith. From thankful confidence in God’s goodness to the desolate cry of abandonment to the affirmation of ethical living that builds community harmony, the psalms give voice to the plethora of emotions with which we grapple while seeking to know and love God.
The psalms eloquently communicate the shifting nature of our relationship with God, self, and neighbor. One biblical scholar suggests that the psalms capture the human experience of moving from an ordered, reliable world to one that has “run amok” and then back to a world of renewed hope. The psalms speak to these three dispositions: confidence in the goodness of creation and the bonds of community (“poems of orientation”); despair over setbacks and pain (“poems of disorientation”) and rejoicing in thanks for the renewal of God’s promises (“poems of new orientation”).
We as a faith community are in the midst of change as a new rector approaches; each of us has faced (and will again) unexpected change that forces us to make transitions, as well as change that starts inside us—self-initiated transitions. And as friends and family members of people we care about who are struck by (or trying to make) change, we all have a role in helping to discern where God is in the midst of these shifting winds and how best to claim the grace God intends for us.
The Advent and nativity narratives involve people who are aware of change. John the Baptist announces that we need to look within and make space for God’s presence. Are we ready? Divine messengers inform Mary and Joseph of a rather big change in their lives. Will they cope? Mary hurries to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah. How does their visit together ease the transition? These are starting points for our reflection on the ways in which faith strengthens us in times of transition and perhaps challenges us to look at change in unexpected ways.