July 13, 2021
Psalms 68:24-36 (NIV)
The Importance of Community
Psalms 68:24-36 (NIV)
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds[b];
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,[c]
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7 When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,[d]
8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
11 The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,[e]
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
14 When the Almighty[f] scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.[g]
18 When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from[h] the rebellious—
that you,[i] Lord God, might dwell there.
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”
24 Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26 Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
28 Summon your power, God[j];
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31 Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush[k] will submit herself to God.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
The Psalms have been a constant source of both pity and gratitude for myself as I navigated through the pandemic. Along with cleaning out closets, converting my basement to a workout room, and finishing much needed projects around the house, I resolved to take on some spiritual practices that I had been contemplating on my spiritual journey. I began to devise a “Rule of Life” by meeting with a small group of women and studying St. Benedict’s Rule of Benedict for Beginners and Stephen A. Macchia’s Crafting a Rule of Life. I also read Thomas Keating’s Intimacy with God and have begun the practice of Centering Prayer (and yes, there is an APP for this). I needed this introspective time. If there has been a silver lining to this pandemic, it was this time that allowed me to slow down and work on these spiritual practices.
However, no matter how much I studied, wrote, and prayed, a huge part of my spiritual being was missing: community. Regardless of how much we sequester ourselves in our individual spiritual practices, community is one of the important pillars of our belief system. Community gives us the ability to truly practice our religion. I have begun to wonder when we became so wrapped up in our individual religious selves that we lessened the importance of fellowship and serving others. Our scripture today emphasizes the joy in corporate worship and the beautiful imagery of worshiping God together. This reminded me of how I felt when we finally opened our church and came together for worship. I was SO “glad when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord”. Psalms 122:1
Lord, thank you for the time that you have given us to focus on you. Our hearts are heavy as we look around our sanctuaries and remember those who are no longer with us. May we be reminded to serve others with urgency and love all unconditionally since we do not know what the future holds. Make us mindful of the privilege of worshiping you together in your church. Amen