Friday, December 16, 2011

Third Friday of Advent

Protect me, O God, for in you I take
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you."
As for the holy ones in the land, they
          are the noble,
    in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god
          multiply their sorrows;

The LORD is my chosen portion and
          my cup;
    you hold my lot.

You show me the path of life.
    In your presence there is fullness
          of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures
          Psalm 16:1-4a, 5, 11

As I grow older, I seem to come closer and closer to the psalms.  Whoever the writers were, they often express a faith I often wish I had.  In the midst of terrible pain, suffering unspeakable loss, surrounded by 'enemies' (often those who were once considered to be friends - and we have all known that experience!), worries about the future  -  no matter the circumstance, the psalmists express a deep and abiding trust in God.  Psalm 16 is a great example.  Like many of that generation, as well as ours, she could have chosen other gods.  Instead, the God who is a refuge, who holds the writer like a mother holds a child, who shows the path to joy, to life, to pleasure  -  that God is chosen!

The writer doesn't tell us how to do it, that would be too easy, and making choices is never easy.  All she can do is tell us what that choice has meant to her.  The psalm is unable to give us faith, it can only offer us faith.  It can offer us the choice to trust in a God who, yes, is often hidden.
   a faith that is confident that God has a new way of life to teach us;
   a faith that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, not only believes
      that can, but that God will act - in the lives of individuals,
      through communities of faith,
      in the affairs of nations and rulers,
      throughout all of human history.

What a marvelous gift  -  this choice.  Will we open it this year?

(c) 2011 Thom M. Shuman

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