Friday, August 25, 2017

The Awkward Dinner parties of Psalms 23

A friend texted me today "Do you ever have a feeling, that your life is about to change?  I've been feeling that."  I laughed it off and said "Oh, it's just the Eclipse." I went on to say that my life has been in a flux of change since about 3 years ago, when I got "Woke." (Well, aware of the millennial term, here).  But the reminder of "change" here, today sent a shiver down my spine.

Not a shiver in the creepy, something is behind you kind, more like this electrical energy current that won't go away. Like somethings going to happen.  I am not sure, but after that comment, it put things into perspective for me the rest of the day.  The flow of conversations have even changed this week, the energy seems to be flowing.  The questions and conversations begin to direct to things, I have a heart for but don't express because people are much fearful of the things I say.  I get that.  I have Grace for those people. I have been there, but I have also been waiting, and I sometimes get restless. And to anyone who is looking over the edge, I say this to you:  Just let go, and don't hold on if you want to engage in the hard questions, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

I, like, anyone else, knows the journey has sharp turns.  It is loooong, and winding.  Filled with scary Shadows that threaten us back into our boxes and want us to be covered up. It's time to uncover. There are Dark Nights of the Soul, and it probably won't be the last you'll see of them.

I'm reminded of Psalms 23 in these questioning, changing times. Uncomfortable times, call for the passage we most use as great comfort.  Read on deathbeds and funerals.  What is it that gives us great comfort about this passage? A Knowing of the Lord leading us.  Nothing can be scarier than being lead to the edge of "death" whether it be in a certain idea, situation, threat, or actual life and not know the outcome.

                He maketh me to lie in green pastures...

  I heard recently that this single phrase, may have a different meaning than we expected.  That our current cultural view has been misinterpreting it.  Thinking God leads us in the lush pastures where we can reach out and just have all our spiritual nutritional needs met right then and there.

We never think that there should be a wrestle when we go looking for God, do we? Yet, I heard a speaker say if they had to name the Bible, themselves, they would call it Come Join us in the Struggle.   If you see where sheep graze in the middle East, in biblical times and today, you would see barren wastelands.  Green pastures actually look like deserts.  Farmers didn't want the sheep to be grazing where they were, the harvest, nope, the Sheppards had to take them to the waste lands and you can see literal worn down paths in these rocky hills where for centuries sheep journeyed on these dirt, barren paths.

In these wastelands, where rain is sparse and moisture comes which ever way the humid wind blows.  Sometimes the rocks will absorb it, and a tiny, little alfalfa will sprout forth, from a rock, ya'll, a ROCK, such an unlikely place to find food (or such an unlucky place to build a church, if you listened to my sermon Sunday ;).

  The Sheppard leads them a little here, and a little there, grazing.  Finding just enough food for each day of survival.  No abundance here. Green Pastures are not abundance nor everything we need in life, in one place.  It's what we need at the time, when we need it.  It's learning to trust as each step presents itself, past the absolutes into the Shadow of Death, Grace.

               He leadeth me beside still waters..
               He restoreth my soul...

There's a peaceful, restoring we can tap into during those hard times, I do believe. Mindfully following the Sheppard as they follow the moisture drenched wind.  A sense of knowing, follows this rocky path.

               I will fear no evil.  For tho art with me.
               ......Tho preparest a table for me in the midst of my enemies

Wait, what?  A table in the midst of my enemies?  That seems like an awkward dinner party? Perhaps when we quit fearing, we can even find restfulness in our enemy's presence.

               He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Perhaps this is a glimpse, we secretly hope for in the Age to Come?  A knowing that comes with the presence of God, the amazement that His presence is in the presence of our enemies, too?  They, too become our dinner guest when we live in the paths of righteousness.

What exactly is Righteousness, you say?

Let's look at one definition of it: the quality or state of being just or rightful.  Just.  A lot of times, we think, WE are the righteous, just ones, but it's not ours to wear, and God plainly says your righteousness is as filthy rags (Ish 64:6).  Why? Because anytime, we're down here, trying to be righteous,  it's laughable.  God's righteousness is just, and it's a justice, we can rest in.  Please change out of those filthy rags before you come to dinner, or you may just be the most unpleasant guest of the night!!

                Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life
                And I will dwell in the house of the Jehovah for ever...

When we have a glimpse of God's heart, which I do believe David (the author of this poem) was acclaimed for, though he continuously made mistakes along the way (half of the psalms are a wrestling and questioning of God). He beautifully orchestras a true peacefulness in this passage, that has resonated soundly, throughout time.  A sneak peek of what Man aligned with God's heart looks like.  A goodness that goes alongside lovingkindness that follows you anywhere, even the most awkward of dinner parties.   Rest in knowing, we can't see where our next meal will come and yet have a hope that, whether that next meal will be in the presence of our enemies, could still be a blessing of God's Restorative Justice.

 Kindness-it's one of the definitions for meekness (I love looking up definitions, if you haven't noticed) Blessed are the Meek, for they will inherit the Earth(Matt 5:5).  Or as I thought, while writing this: Blessed are the Betas for they rule and Alpha's drool.  haha, had to add some light heartedness to this, but yes, a reminder of the words of Jesus when he talked about Heaven and Earth, a yes on Earth is a Yes in Heaven (matt 18:20), and us, the church, having the keys to intermingle these boundaries as intercessors for the world.

So, go in Peace, people.  There's a change about to happen, where sides are blurred in the presence of God and our still waters will be calling forth into these strange dinner parties, where we find the anointing of God that covers us in our fearlessness and by taking hands with those we rejected before. Come, let's go eat!

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