Wednesday, March 17th Psalm 31:9-15

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Psalm 31:9-15

Still thinking about New Orleans and Psalm 31…(and the religious roots of the green beer celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day…)

New Orleans – since its earliest days – has been known as a party city, a festive city, a place of decadence and revelry and debauchery and wine and food and music and fun. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, it has also been known as a very spiritual, and very spiritually diverse, city.

Spiritually has always been central to life in New Orleans. Very diverse religious roots are planted deeply in the city. The spirituality of the native people was there before the first explorers arrived from other lands. The Roman Catholic Church came both directly from France but also with the interesting twists of the French speaking immigrants, the Cajuns, from Nova Scotia and other places in eastern Canada in the 1760’s. A distinctive branch of Louisiana voodoo was imported with the slave trade. And the first Lutheran congregation began in New Orleans in 1840.

Mix all of that up, throw in a little dash of post-Civil War reconstruction, black segregation, Mississippi blues and you eventually arrive at jazz, at Mardi Gras, at a city that parties and parades and “festivals” all year around. This city that has forever been plagued with problems, with grinding poverty, with deep racial divides, also celebrates life like few other places in the country. There might be reasons for that.

Psalm 31 is a psalm of lament. As such, it shares the basic structure of all such psalms. It opens with a introductory cry to God, continues with a description of lament or suffering (like the verses above), leads to a confession of trust, asks God to act, and ends with some type of praise.

In all of that, a psalm of lament is much like the journey we walk when slogging our way through the trials we experience in life. We trust God when its easy, we cry out when we get hurt, we ask for God’s help, and we praise God on the other side.

Of course all of this requires a bit of thoughtfulness. We need to pay attention to our lives, to our spirits and spirituality. We need a certain degree of “God consciousness” in our lives in order to reflect consciously on the presence and activity of God in our lives, and in the world around us. One could even argue that it is precisely this kind of “God consciousness” that is the goal of faith formation, of disciple-making.

In so many interesting ways, the festival life of New Orleans is actually grounded in the spiritual roots of disciple-making. Life in New Olreans is a living lament psalm that doesn’t get stuck in the middle but moves all the way through to the celebration of gratitude and life.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, open our hearts and minds that we can more consciously see your movements in the world. Open us that we might think more deeply and see more clearly how it is that we are walking with you and how it is that you are seeing us through the dark times of our lives. Open us to celebrate the gift that life will always be for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Wednesday, March 17th Psalm 31:9-15”

  1. Janice Says:

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