Thursday, February 27, 2014

Practising the Presence of God

Psalm 121:1  A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come? 2  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4  He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5  The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. 6  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7  The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

This psalm is the second in a collection of 15 psalms with essentially the same title – “A Song of Ascents”.  They begin with a prayer of distress from one who is far from home (Ps 120) and concludes with a call to praise in the sanctuary of Zion (Ps 134). While this title has led to a variety of interpretations and approaches to this collection of psalms, it seems that there is consensus that the title points to songs of pilgrimage. Three times each year the men of Israel (yes men) were to come to the temple in Jerusalem and present themselves before the Lord (Deuteronomy 16:16). These fifteen Psalms, called the ‘songs of degrees’ (elevation, journey to a higher place, go up) were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.

Despite all the distractions of the noise and bustle of the city, the pilgrims wind their way up the hill to the temple, in constant conversation with God. At another time in history Brother Lawrence writes of practicing an awareness of the presence of God in the midst of our busy lives:
In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament”. [1] 
As we journey towards Easter, perhaps this idea can become part of our own spiritual pilgrimage. As we go about our daily lives, let us learn to be in constant conversation with God.

Prayer: God, I want to give you every minute…I shall try to keep you in mind every moment of my waking hours….I shall try to let you be the speaker and direct every word. I shall try to let you direct my acts. I shall try to learn your language”. 
Frank Charles Laubach[2]

The Eighth Sunday after Epiphany
Protected by God
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.95

[1] Brother Lawrence The Practice of the Presence of God (Radford VA, Wilder Publications 2008), 25.
[2] Frank Charles Laubach Learning the Vocabulary of God, (Martino Fine Books, 2012), 5.

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