The world’s true lord

Saturday

Psalm 145:10-18

File:De barmhartige Samaritaan Frank Letterie Dorpsstraat Putten.jpg14The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The Tanakh translation by the Jewish Publication Society translates this verse as:

The LORD supports all who stumble,
and makes all who are bent stand straight.

Without casting aspersions on our economic system, I want to simply point out the contrast: Our system rewards those who do not stumble, who stand tall. In the same way, our society rewards the beautiful not the plain. Donald Trump makes the evening news for saying the same racist things as the shooter at the Lafayette theater, but Trump is on the news because he is rich, powerful and famous while the other is a nutcase.

In contrast to our social context – in contrast to the ‘gods’ of our society (money, sex and power, the things in which we put our hope and trust) – is the God to whom the scriptures bear witness:

The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The stumbling, groping, uncertain, struggling – the mother of three with two jobs, the unemployed man at 55, the children in violent neighborhoods, the uncared for – these are the ones to whom the mighty and majestic power of the universe reaches out his hands.

And it is important that we remember that those hands carry the marks of nails.

The god we worship is not the god of success and power. The god before whom we bow is not the conqueror of nations. The god to whom we stretch out our hands is the one who revealed himself to Moses the murderer when he was in exile. The god who stretches out his hands to us is the one who gathered a people out of bondage and gave them commands to care for one another that none may go hungry. The god to whom we show allegiance is the one who takes widows and orphans into his shelter, who speaks for the poor, who binds up the wounded, who gathers the scattered, who touches the unclean.

The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The god we worship is the one who paddles upstream against the current of human affairs. He is the god of refugees and grieving mothers. He is the god of compassion and mercy. He is the god of healing and grace. He is the god who revealed himself not with legions of angels but upon a cross speaking words of grace: “Father, forgive them.”

We inhabit a world of terrible injustices and cruelties that we have learned to take for granted. But there is a god who camps with the homeless, who walks the mean streets, who dwells in the troubled homes. This, we proclaim, is the world’s true lord. This, we proclaim, is the one who called all creation into being and breathes into each of us the breath of life. This, we proclaim, is the one who will be history’s final word. By him will all things be measured. For him will all things exist. With him will all creation dine.

The LORD upholds all who are falling,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

 

Sculpture “De barmhartige Samaritaan” (the Good Samaritan) by Frank Letterie in 1976, placed in 1997 at the square at the Dorpsstraat/Kerkweg in Putten.  Image by Brbbl (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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