Friday, April 14, 2017

Holding your head up

Great Vigil of Easter Reflection 

by Dave Grace

 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
    the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.
(Psalm 121, NRSV)

The transcendent in the immanent is God's relation with/in Creation. Psalm 121 begins with a stark lifting of the gaze upward. It is not the same look up toward heaven in Acts 1:10, where disciples lose sight of God's presence, but it seems more akin to 'holding your head up' being confident of God's presence. First looking up, the Psalm quickly grounds the deeply human search for God in place, here the hillsides of ancient Israel. Despite origin in this particular place, the Psalm provides words which can speak to us too in our own particular place. This earthly expansiveness is witnessed in the very earthly care of God's provision of shade from the sun by day and even shade from its lingering rays reflected from the moon at night (v.6). The quality of God's transcendent presence in Creation is why the Psalms poetic language is often at once metaphor and the thing itself. Beyond our imagination, God is acting in our places and God's transcendence can only be spoken of in terms related to our places. Transcendence and immanence can only be occupied at once by God so the question for us is how can we keep our heads up while keeping our feet steady on the ground. How can we occupy our place without pretending to occupy the place of God?

Prayer: Lord, direct our gaze to the places where we are. Steady our feet. Let us follow your paths.

Dave Grace is an inquirer in the PC(USA) seeking to consult with Presbyteries and other denominational bodies on land-use planning to achieve conservation goals – M.Div & Master of Environmental Management ’17 Duke University

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