For My Own Good

I have been preoccupied lately with the extent to which USA culture has shifted towards belief that life is a “zero sum game” – when you gain, I must lose. Compassion and generosity then require “self-sacrifice” and we become fearful of losing too much. But Jesus taught that only by losing do we win. Losing is not sacrifice but gain. Compassion and social justice are not just to benefit others but are the highest good for ourselves.

Psalm 96

Sing to God Lady Wisdom a new song
A song of blessedness, a song of salvation
A song of God’s glory, marvelous works, and greatness
Sing to the God who is above all gods, above all troubles
Proclaim God’s honor and majesty, glory and strength
God’s holy splendor
I offer myself before my God
I offer myself and I tremble
God is Sovereign Lady Wisdom
And so God’s world is firmly established
And shall never be moved
God’s world around me
God’s world inside me
God’s living Word around me
God’s living Word inside me
I live in God’s world and God lives in me
God is fair and equitable
God is holiness and mercy
And so I shall be judged
With fairness, with mercy
Let me rejoice with all of God’s creation
With seas and land
With field and trees
With thoughts and deeds
With feelings and senses
All sing for joy
Because God comes, God abides, God lives, God reigns
Judging all, judging me
With righteousness, with truth, with love. Amen

Freedom from Thought

I read about Ignatius’ three types of people exercise and, as I tried to think my way through it, I began to feel that my faith wasn’t “good enough.” I think because I misunderstood the exercise.

Then, believe it or not, Divine intervention came through Facebook. I saw a link on Facebook to an interview with Karen Armstrong and in that interview I read this, “thinking can only take you so far. Action, behavior, especially compassionate behavior, is more important than thinking. By constantly exercising compassion, the golden rule, you enter a different state of consciousness. This rather than thinking will get you to enlightenment.”

And there it is. There’s the freedom that God wants from me. Freedom from attachment to always thinking my way through life.

Psalm 97

There is one God, Sovereign and Almighty
I can relax, I can rejoice
There is one God, Sovereign and Almighty
One God who rules the universe and my life
With power and majesty, mystery and awe
With righteousness and justice
Burning away my doubts
Lighting my darkness
Melting my mountains of failure
From the heavens of hope
I proclaim God’s righteousness
With clouds of witnesses
I behold God’s glory
The glory of unfailing love
The glory of unending faithfulness
The glory that is stronger, brighter, surer
Than the false gods of despair that threaten me
I hear, I know, I laugh, I rejoice
For the certainty that You are greatest
Highest, bestest over all
Exalted far above the dark gods who trouble my peace
I rejoice for the certainty that You love me
You protect me, You rescue me
Light and lightness rise up in my heart
Joy and hope are born again in my soul
How can I help but sing?
Let me rejoice in God
And give thanks to God’s holy name. Amen.

Psalm 98

I sing to God a new song
I name God Lady Wisdom, Wisdom Woman and sing to Her a new song
My own unique-to-right-now new song
And my new song sings of the eternal song
Of God’s marvelous saving majestic powerful unfailing love
Of the times in my life when God’s love is victorious
I sing because that is all times
I sing of the times when I know it to be true
I sing of God’s steadfast love
God’s enduring faithfulness
To me
All my life, all my life
When I know it and when I deny it
I live within God’s victory for me
Make a joyful noise to God, o my soul
With that great cloud of witnesses
Sing and dance and shout for joy
Forget those terrible Ds
(At least for now)
Enjoy this sureness, this confidence
In the greatness, the triumph, the love of God
With all the waters of the seas
With all the depths of my feelings
With all the lands of earth
With all the breadth of my thoughts
With all the floods and mountains
With all my love and hope
I will sing my own ever-new song
Joining the everlasting song of joy
For the coming of God, Lady Wisdom
For the righteousness of God, Wisdom Woman
For the saving grace and equity of my God. Amen

Psalm 99

God reigns supreme over all my life
The good and the bad
The wanted and the unwanted
The then, the now, the will be
God is supreme over it all
I will praise Your great and awesome name
You are holy
I remind myself that You are
Not only the almighty Sovereign
But just and holy
With me as with Leah and Rachel
You rule with loving equity
Though I do not see or understand that truth
By faith alone
Let me praise and thank You
Do I dare join Miriam, Deborah and Hannah?
Do I dare call on You, depend on You?
Will You let me be Your people?
Though I fail so often
Though I love so little
Will You answer me?
Will You forgive me?
Is Your promise for me?
Am I a daughter of Israel?
Trying but failing
Needing forgiveness
As much as correction
All I can do is hope, believe
Exalt and worship You in my life. Amen

What Counts

If time is what counts, then we have little left
Most of life is behind us

If money is what counts, then we have enough
Mostly we can do what we want

If friends are what counts, then we have a few
Good and close and cherished

If family is what counts, then we have complications
Some good, some bad, some indifferent

If faith is what counts, then we have doubt
Trying to worship a God we are not sure exists

If achievement is what counts, then we have satisfaction
Good careers behind us

If security is what counts, then we have an abundance
Because we live as middle class white Americans

If class is what counts, then we have risen
Above our parents’ class

If service is what counts, then we have opportunities
Every day, in small ways and larger

If love is what counts, then we have everything

Psalm 100

With my whole heart and mind, body and soul
I will make a joyful noise to God
I will worship God with gladness
And come into God’s presence with singing
I know that God is sovereign over all existence
Including my own
I know that God made me and I belong to God
I know that God claimed me for Her own
I, too, am a child in Her garden
So I enter God’s palace home with thanksgiving
And Her beautiful courts with praise
I give thanks to God and bless Her name
For God is good, always
Her steadfast love endures forever
Despite my own fickleness
Her faithfulness extends through all seasons of my life
Through all my twists and turns
In times of doubt and times of faith
In times of devotion and times of dryness
God’s faithfulness – TO ME – endures forever. Amen.

Psalm 91

Assurance of God’s Protection

Living in the shelter of the Most High
Abiding in the shadow of the Almighty
I will say to Her
“You are my refuge and my strength
My God in whom I trust”
For She will deliver me from the snare of my doubts
And from my deadly depression
She will cover my faults with Her righteousness
Under Her wings I will find refuge and hope
Her enduring faithfulness is my shield against hopelessness
I will not fear my night terrors
Nor my daily failings
Not my dark depression
Nor my blinding doubts
A thousand doubts may trouble me
Ten thousand failings may preoccupy me
But She will protect me
She will open my mind to hope, to love, to eternal life
Because I have made Her my refuge
The Most High my dwelling place
No evil will befall me, no doom will come near me
She commands Her angels to protect me, to guard me always
To bear me up when I am cast down
To keep me from tearing myself to bits
So I will trample all my doubts and darkness, depression and disasters
God has promised
Through steadfast love, She will deliver me
With enduring faithfulness, She will protect me
When I call to Her, when I cry out, She will answer
She is with me through all my troubles, big and small
She rescues me, saves me, redeems me
With eternal life, she will quiet all my anxious striving
And show me Her salvation. Amen.

Psalm 130 – once and again

Here I am again, God, crying to You,
Please listen, please help, please have mercy
I have failed again, of course
I smile outside while inside I am angry and disparaging
Disparaging: a new D in my firmament – my dark firmament of Ds
I know You forgive me quicker and more completely than I forgive myself
I know that is a fearfully, delightfully, wonderful thing
But does it help me? Will I be a better friend, mother, sister, daughter, lover
I wait for You, God, I wait and I hope
Right down to the bottom of my soul I wait, and I’ll go on waiting
Through my dark night, through my dark night
Hoping, trusting, believing that the morning of Your light will come
With Your steadfast love, with Your full redemption, with Your saving grace
You will redeem me from all my sins, my faults
I wait, I hope, I pray
I don’t suppose You could hurry it up a bit, could You? Amen.

Psalm 130 – again

Despite my dark doubts and confusion
Once again, I come crying to You, God
Hoping You exist, hoping You will hear me
Hoping You will help me
Because if You don’t, who will, who can
I’m scared, I’m getting everything wrong again
I feel hopeless
Until I remember You, until I hope in You
Until I remember Your forgiveness
Your steadfast love, You unfailing faithfulness
And so I have to wait, wait with hope for You
But it’s so hard to just wait
Wait through this darkness
Wait through this doubt
Wait through this confusion
Wait for Your light to show me the way
The way, the truth, the life
Wait with hope, and belief in Your steadfast love
Your great power to help me, to save me
Because I am Israel and You are my God and Savior. Amen.