Rejoice, you righteous, in the Lord, in song your voices raise; awake the psaltery and harp, lift up God’s name in praise! For by God’s word the heavens were hung; God laid the sea and land, and all that fills the firmament were made at God’s command.
Let every nation, every land unite with one accord, and humbly lay their heart-felt prayers in awe before the Lord. How happy are God’s faithful ones, how blest God’s chosen heirs, for surely an inheritance of glory shall be theirs!
Behold, God’s ever-watchful eye sees through our dark despair; the arms of grace encircle us with strong, yet tender care; the hope of all the ages past, that sets at peace our fears, God’s mercy and God’s steadfast love shall follow all our years.
Sometimes, dear pray-er, I take Scripture words as I read them. As if they were written in the place they are read, in the time in which they are being read, I read as if they are speaking directly into this time. I know they come from other times for other people and the authors probably didn’t guess them to last this long. But they are with us still.
I read and rejoice in God’s name and creation, no matter how much we understand or how it happened. I read on, certainly wishing that every nation could unite in one accord in prayer. I’m not sure how chosen we are, but I grasp a sense of peace, if not happiness, in being faithful.
Stanzas one and two accepted with mystery behind them, I dwell with the third. I believe that these words of profound trust and faith remain alive and speak to us now because they are true in an eternal, purposeful way. We can all name, with a little digging, when we were peaceful and expected otherwise. We can look back to see when we survived and didn’t assume we would, we can bear to see that hope shocked us alive when we least anticipated it. That we are alive, reading and praying is in some measure an account of God’s watchful eye in our despair, God’s encircling grace and tender care. That we pray at all is a sign of hope that our fear may become peace.
In these challenging days when all which seems steady and eternal is rocked to the core, we can take heart from our act of praying, linking ourselves with each other and our eternal God. We will be carried into peace by the very God-ful hope we have.
Prayer Dear God, I praise you that I am even praying. You have pulled me through, made me see, made me cry as we all feel so much for each other. Let me believe with childlike simplicity that you simply Are. Here with us. Renew my hope and my commitment to carry that Spirit hope – a torch into the world in which you place us.
Revd Elizabeth Gray-King, Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s URC Oxford