Monday, June 20, 1011 -- Week of Proper 7, Year One
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 972)
Psalms 89:1-18 (morning) 89:19-52 (evening)
1 Samuel 5:1-12
Today's psalm for Morning Prayer opens with a singular proclamation. "Your love, O God, for ever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness." (89:1) It is a good thing to open the day with a cry of love, a commitment to trust that God's love is underneath all that is.
In both of our New Testament readings today there is a scene of early morning teaching -- a model of grounding in love and trust. Luke offers a brief closing at the end of Jesus' teaching in the temple. Luke concludes the section saying, "And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to (Jesus) in the temple." In the passage from Acts, the disciples enter the temple at daybreak to continue with their teaching following their angelic release from prison.
Every enduring religion understands the mystery of the dawn. When life begins again each day it is good to recall who we are and whose we are -- to remember the teaching. For Christians, that teaching is centered in love. "Your love, O God, for ever will I sing." St. Augustine distinguished the Christian way from other competing religious paths as a heart-centered life which revolves around divine love. Augustine insisted that the scripture teaches nothing but charity and must be interpreted through the lens of love.
There is a kind of coherence that happens to us when we start the day grounded in the fundamentals, renewed in an intentional trust in God who is love. We can start our day as Dante ends his Divine Comedy, with our desire and our will aligned with "the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."
Luke gives us a picture of that coherent life of trust under love. As Peter and the other disciples go about their daily chores, there are "signs and wonders." Other people experience their coherence and become more whole. I can sense that. There are certain people I know who seem to change the energy in a room when they arrive. There is a presence about them that makes for peace and possibility. I can also think of a few people who seem to provoke chaos and confusion by their mere presence. "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near." (Lk. 21:29f) What is it about these people who can bring coherence into a room even before they speak?
As I think about some of the people who are models of coherence for me, I recognize that they are people who are grounded in something transcendent. They are self-defined, but they define themselves by something greater than their own self. They can answer like Peter and the apostles, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." (Lk. 21:29b) Sometimes it feels like simply being in their shadow raises my sense of hope and possibility. They remind me of my own transcendent alignment, and I am refreshed by the divine love that moves my center as it moves these people whom I look upon as some of my "stars."
All of our readings today proclaim the power of the transcendent in the midst of frustrations. Jesus' morning teaching includes warnings of wars and insurrections, conflicts and persecutions, strains throughout the natural world. He tells us to guard our hearts so we are not "weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life," the distractions that make us unmindful and sleepy. In Acts, the disciples are being hassled and even detained by the authorities. And we know there is a shadow from the later verses in Psalm 89 when the psalmist will lament that God has "cast off and rejected your anointed."
Yet we make the morning cry, "Your love, O God, for ever will I sing." We reassert our trust in love in the presence of so much that seems broken, threatening or even ominous. We might even sing a verse from Mississippi poet William Alexander Percy, "The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod, Yet let us pray for but one thing -- the marvelous peace of God." (Hymn 661)
Your love, O God, for ever will I sing; from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever;
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens. (Ps. 89:1-2)
May I set my life this morning firmly on the foundation of the love of God which grounds all that is and all that I am. May I be one of the coherent ones today; one who can bring peace and possibility to the people and situations I will encounter. Maybe as I go about my daily chores, I can be awake enough to see "signs and wonders," even in the inevitable frustrations and strifes that surround our way. It is day. The night is past. Life renews. Underneath it all, there is nothing, but love.