The funny thing is – I don’t think I’ve ever preached on Psalm 121. It’s not one of my favorite scriptures. Yes, it’s comforting, but it’s not one of the ones that typically jumps to mind when I’m providing pastoral care. And yet, it has intersected with my life in profound ways and at the most difficult of times – it is a snagged thread running the length of the tapestry of my life.
Coming upon that notecard in the back corner of my desk drawer felt like the Spirit poking me in the ribs.
do you even remember what it says? Maybe you should reread it.
I didn’t. Then we moved. I lost the notecard in the shuffle. After Easter I pulled out a book to prep for a meeting and there it was. Again.
Really. Maybe you should reread it.
The Lord who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper.
The Lord will keep your life.
These were the lines that stood out.
Night or day, God is with us – alert, present, paying attention.
God holds us, embraces us, keeps us.
In life and in death we belong to the Lord of life.
Now, more than ever, I need those reminders. Now, when the whole world is shuddering under the weight of collective trauma; now, when we are cracking under the stress of our individual griefs; now, more than ever, I need those reminders.
And perhaps it’s fitting that those reminders come from this Psalm that isn’t my favorite – this Psalm that just keeps showing up like a snagged thread. Because the truth is, sometimes the Spirit shows up in spiritual practices that aren’t our favorite, in places that we don’t find beautiful, in people we don’t particularly like, and in those challenges and calls that just keep popping up over and over again. And in the chaos of the world as it is right now, I find that particularly comforting because it means that even in this time that feels so bizarre, so unpredictable, so riddled with grief and anxiety, God still shows up. It might not be in the ways that we expect or normally find meaningful or are particularly attracted to, but the Spirit is still reaching out to comfort and embrace us. The words might come from an unfamiliar tongue or to the tune of an annoying song, but Christ is still proclaiming, “I love you, and I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
Thanks be to God.