Psalm 132: 13-16 For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.
photo credit Sarah Hulme
Reading this Psalm left me wondering about the pilgrims that used to journey together to Jerusalem ahead of a major festival. Taking time out from the daily grind of life to focus attention on God is probably something that still comes as a struggle for most of us, but it’s vital for our perspective. I’m part of a fresh expression of Church locally called Mountain Pilgrims – we head out into the fells and discover ‘thin places’ together.
Finding ‘thin places’ usually means ascending! Going uphill is hard work, it can be a slog. Journeying with others can ease the struggle, as we encourage each other along. Sometimes it’s all I can do to place my feet in the footsteps of the person in front, gasping for breath, stopping to look back at how far we’ve come or take a photo of the view. Occasionally I’m the one helping someone else slowly gain height, reminding them that the top is getting closer and cheering them on as we reach the summit.
Conversation often turns to anticipation and encouragement as we journey uphill together, a reminder of the promise of God’s presence with us as we journey through life. At the top, we usually share food together and reflect upon the journey thus far. In this cost of living crisis, our chat also frequently turns outwards. We can’t ignore the challenge of how abundantly we are blessed with provisions, contrasted with the inequalities our current world systems continue to perpetuate, where people have few basic necessities to survive, even close to home and maybe on our street.
It’s as we start to head back downhill that I take the challenge of this Psalm with me into the coming week: how can I ensure that those in my area experiencing hunger are satisfied with bread?
A few things to wonder as we wander
How can I remind myself of this psalm this week? Maybe the next time I climb the stairs or walk up a hill? Who could I be journeying alongside and encouraging? When do I shout for joy and where should I shout for justice?
God, as I step out along the path today may I be aware of your guiding presence. Show me where I can be an encouragement to others.
Remind me of my many blessings and prompt me to share from the abundance of my provisions.
Stir me to act and speak out against injustice. Help me to bring joy to those I encounter today. Amen.
Sarah Hulme is the Methodist Rural Mission & Ministry Officer. She works alongside the Arthur Rank Centre, offering ecumenical training for those in rural leadership. Sarah collaborates on issues of rural justice with the Joint Public Issues Team