Week of 5 Easter, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 72 (morning) // 119:73-96 (evening)
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
A few verses from our Psalm this morning attempt to reassure us about God’s enduring justice and eternal presence by comparing them to the life of the sun. The Psalmist proclaims that when God gives his justice to a chosen king and his successors in perpetuity, “He shall live as long as sun and moon endure, from one generation to another.” And the Psalm ends with resounding praise for the God of Israel: “May his Name remain for ever and be established as long as the sun endures.”
Yet even if the Psalmist gets his wish and God’s justice and God’s Name endure as long as the sun itself, then they still have an expiration date. According to astrophysicists, the sun won’t endure forever, but for a mere five billion more years. Worse yet, God’s justice may endure “from one generation to another,” but those generations will cease much sooner than the sun itself. As the sun burns through its hydrogen core, the earth will become uninhabitable to human beings less than one billion years from now.
What do the Psalmist’s hopes for God’s enduring justice and everlasting Name mean in light of current predictions about the sun’s demise? I confess that I sometimes spiral into nihilism when I contemplate the finitude of our species, planet, and galaxy. But as I pray the Psalm today, I try to let the sun’s finitude help me burn with the urgency reflected in the Psalm itself. The Psalmist cries out for a ruler who, as the heir to God’s justice, will not only endure forever, but will immediately “preserve the lives of the needy,” “redeem their lives from oppression and violence,” and “come down like rain upon the mown field.”
The earth and its people have urgent needs, here and now. We may long for a God whose justice will endure forever, but there are people who need justice and redemption from poverty and violence this very day. We may long for heavenly bodies that shine eternally, but there is a planet whose fragile atmosphere needs relief before it’s too late. As we pray this morning’s Psalm, we’re on the cusp of one more rotation of the earth. How will we bring God’s redeeming and refreshing presence to the day at hand, and leave the cosmos in the hands of someone more qualified?
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.