Friday, March 22, 2013

Retrieve Lament, Day 32 with Page CXVI and Martha Failinger (+ suggested resources for Lent 2013)

"Once, ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all is silent. Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned.
That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve
the lament that we omitted." 
             -- Ranier Maria Rilke, from Requiem For A Friend
During Lent I'll share almost-daily meditations of Scripture, hymns, and art reflecting this time of tension between dying and birth.

Won't you join me?

March 21, Day 32

The Book of Psalms invites us to rehearse the poetry of praise and lament, the liturgy of God's people from the beginning of being God's people.  This week I'm digging into the Psalms of Ascent, Psalm 120-134, and imagining myself walking the path up to the city of worship with my Hebrew brothers and sisters.   
via CardiphoniaThe Psalms of Ascents (Psalm 120-134) have existed as a pilgrim psalter for the Judeo-Christian faith for over 2 millenia.  They are a unique collection of psalms, shorter than average – with a distinctive ‘folky-ness’ that were sung by jewish pilgrims as they traveled up to Jerusalem for the great feasts.
My third day in the Psalms of ascent and I'm smitten.  In a good way.  The beauty not only of the poetry itself, but imagining God's people singing together on their way to Jerusalem for worship just about wrecks me.  In my imagination I picture a musically-skilled pilgrim strumming the first chord of Psalm 128 while tripping over the neighbor kids running circles around the temple-bound procession.  

I keep learning from the seamless transitions between joy and sorrow, both leading toward peace and rest in the protection of YHWH.  We know in the Lenten journey that in a few days this same procession will arrive in Jerusalem, just ahead of the donkey-riding Messiah.  They've sung the ancient Psalms just like their fathers and their fathers' fathers.  And seven days after that they'll chant words none of them ever expected.

But for now, we continue in our ascent.  Psalm 131 has ministered to my  mental health for years and is one of my favorite blessings to pray for others.  It's this motif of little ones that led me to Page CXVI's music and Martha Failinger's artwork today.  True lament remembers we are all to come as children, that what we suffered and what we celebrated in our growing-up days lead to the same Redeemer who stretches out time, returns time, heals us with peace and rest.

In the words of my three-year-old son (16 years ago!):  God Loves Me and He Likes Me.


Here's a few more bits from my meditation on Psalm 128 -131.   (See Psalms 120 - 123 here and Psalms 124 - 127 here)

Paul and Martha on Slide at Cottage

Martha Failinger
via CIVA network 

Psalm 128

English Standard Version (ESV)

Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children!
    Peace be upon Israel!

Song of response for all He's made well:  Peace Like A River from Page CXVI

Psalm 129

English Standard Version (ESV)

They Have Afflicted Me from My Youth

A Song of Ascents.

 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
    let Israel now say—
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
    yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed upon my back;
    they made long their furrows.”
The Lord is righteous;
    he has cut the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion
    be put to shame and turned backward!
Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
    which withers before it grows up,
with which the reaper does not fill his hand
    nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
nor do those who pass by say,
    “The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the Lord!”

A hymn of response to the God who provides us rest from affliction :  Jesus, I am Resting, Resting from Page CXVI

Psalm 130

English Standard Version (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

 Out of the depths I cry to you, OLord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.
wait for the Lordmy soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

A hymn of gratitude in response to the Father's saving love:  How Deep the Father's Love for Us from Page CXVI

Two more re-tuned hymns I'd recommend for Psalm 130:

Out of the Depths, words adapted from "Out of the Deep I Call" by Henry W. Baker (1868), music by Karl Digerness (2005)

From the Depths of Woe (Psalm 130), Words by Martin Luther, Music by Christopher Miner

Psalm 131

English Standard Version (ESV)

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

Lord, my heart is not lifted up;

    my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

    too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord

    from this time forth and forevermore.

A song of child-like gratitude to the Jesus who loves us:  Jesus Loves Me from Page CXVI

Mom, Steve, Paul and Martha on Christmas Day
Martha Failinger
via CIVA network

Suggested Resources for Lent:

    Now it's your turn!  What art are you enjoying this season? 
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    "Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east." Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Wreck of the Deutschland
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