May God arise, and may his foes Be scattered far and put to flight. As smoke is blown before the wind, So may your foes be blown from sight: As wax is melted by the fire May they before God’s wrath expire.
But may the righteous all be glad; May they rejoice and sing aloud. Sing praise to God, sing to his name; Extol the One who rides the cloud; For he alone is named the LORD— With joy all praise to him accord.
A father to the fatherless, Of widows’ rights the champion, Is God within his holy place; He gives a home to the forlorn. He leads the captives forth with song; To rebels barren wastes belong.
When you, O God, went out and led Your people through the desert plain— When through the wilderness you marched, Earth shook and heaven poured down rain Before the God of Sinai’s hill, Before the God of Israèl.
O God, with showers you refreshed Your heritage so dry and bare. And so your people settled down And made their habitation there. And from your overflowing store You made provision for the poor.
In a crowded train station, people watch the boards. “Delayed.” Over the tannoy a person explains there’s a signalling failure. Wandering amongst the would-be travellers is a homeless man, asking for help. A stranded traveller decides not to rush past as normal, but instead stops, offers the man a meal of his choice, friendly conversation, and a bottle of water for later.
Getting from Point A (Psalm 68) to point B (train station)
The tracks this Psalm lays out are:
A plea for God to restore God’s ways of doing stuff
A vision that the people are so chuffed that they thank God
God’s ways reach out to those without a place in the centre of the community.
The implication – God did it before, why wouldn’t God do it now?
As we walk the way and live the life of Jesus today, some days the trains run perfectly, sometimes we get delayed. At those times it’s easy to focus on the heartbreak or the complication. Rather than turn inward, the Psalm encourages us to look to God and to give thanks to God by helping the most vulnerable around us.
This Psalm is a journey from God acting to the poor being provided for, with stops of remembering God’s goodness along the way. As disciples of Christ, those who see what Jesus was doing and then learn to do it ourselves, I wonder if we should consider our part in this? Maybe our role is to pray that God put the world to right, leads us on, and then step out in obedience and expectation, following God wherever He leads and to whomever He leads us to?
Somewhere in the midst of the occasional delay, when our journey slows down, there is a homeless man looking for food.
God, As we keep our eyes on you, help us to be aware of those travelling with us. Amen
The Rev’d Angela Rigby is minister at Christ Church URC Tonbridge and St Johns Hill URC Sevenoaks.