Psalm 103:19-22

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.

Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.

Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Psalm 103:19-22

Back when I was in college I loved driving out to spend weekends or holidays with my Grandma Nelson. I used to love to sit at the kitchen table and listen to her stories. Sometimes I would ask her about the old days, about her growing up years, about her years as a wife, mother, and teacher. Other times I would listen to her filling me in about my cousins’ live. And then there would be the times when she would tell me about the going’s on with some of the other families in her little community.

I particularly remember the times she would say, in her Norwegian accent, “Oh but ya’ know he’s on drugs” or “well, he goes down to the bar.” It was clear to me that that put people at the lowest rung of the ladder of life. Right above pond scum.

I remember how those moments hurt – given that my parents (including her son) were recovering alcoholics. Even then I understood at a very deep level that public shame was only the tip of the iceberg of pain that flowed through the lives of addicts and the people who love them.

My Grandma was a deeply committed and passionately engaged Christian woman. She was a pillar of the church, and that in a very good way. And, without her realizing it, it was precisely people like her – well meaning, loving, Christian people – who make “church” a very unsafe place for people who are “on drugs” or “like to go to the bar.”

Such shame is powerful. Powerful enough to keep people away from the public expressions of the church, but even more, the internal fire of shame burns away their spirituality and cuts them off from the awareness of God’s presence. Too painful to bear, the only answer becomes whatever feeling-numbing chemical or behavior works. Even in a small town.

Enter the Psalmist with his affirmation of God’s presence everywhere, all the time, evoking songs of celebration and gratitude from the angels and ministers (even us) who have been named, claimed, and set apart to live in and invite others into a loving relationship with this everywhere God.

My Grandma found that God in church. My parents found that God in AA. Wherever you find God, God works if you work it.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you are everywhere, all the time, in all things. We hear that, we believe that, but sometimes it just feels like you are hiding. Like you are playing hide and seek, toying with us. Blast through our resistance, catch us when we fall, use us as you will, that we might live in that broken community that shouts your praise to the rooftops. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “Psalm 103:19-22”

  1. Carolee Says:

    “Wherever you find God, God works if you work it.” I LIKE that phrase!

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