It’s been wonderful to have a week away from the “work” of ministry – to spend time in my studies with the likes of Mallory and Chaucer, to enjoy the sunshine after the rain, to indulge in long baths and pyjama days, to feel energy and creativity and vision unfolding again from the resting place ….
a special word of thanks to the elders from Pilgrim who have shared their own stories, thoughts, and reflections with us in this space to make that time possible. We truly are a community that is being led and fed and built as we deepen our connection with Christ and seek to offer the gifts that we receive to one another and the world.
An acrostic prayer/poem based on Psalm 23
Sing songs of blessing and devotion to the shepherd of our souls! He is our constant companion, our protector, our friend. Each of us is known by name; led by his footsteps into the open way. Peace and plenty are the gifts we will find in his resting place; His goodness and love, the assurance that our future is safe in his hands. Even when the day is dark and difficulties distress us, Remember that you are not alone – he is near. Delight in the table set before you and and drink deeply of his Spirit!
Today’s song has long spoken into the very depths of my heart of the presence of God in the high and low places of my life.
When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary When troubles come, and my heart burdened be Then, I am still and wait here in the silence Until you come and sit awhile with me
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains You raise me up to walk on stormy seas I am strong when I am on your shoulders You raise me up to more than I can be ….
You raise me up, today’s version performed by Josh Groban
It evokes, particularly, memories of many trips down from the inland plateau of the Highveld in which Johannesburg is located to the southern coast of Kwa-zulu Natal – for family holidays (both as a child and as a parent), formation for ministry, and silent retreat.
The long drive alone was often a wonderful time of contemplation and quiet as I watched the rolling plains give way to flat fields of wheat and sunflowers to the steep and winding pass through the mountains.
Always, I would stop for a cup of coffee and to stretch my legs just off of Van Reenen’s Pass … and to get my playlist ready for the next part of the journey. Always this song would play (very, very loudly and on repeat) as my eyes took in the wondrous beauty of God’s good creation in its green and browns and the play of light and dark on the open hills and leafy valleys.
Always, the words of the Psalmist would come to mind:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2, New International Version
As you listen, may you feel the hands of God enfold you gently, offering you sufficient help for this day, and leading you into life in the wide open spaces of mercy and grace.
There is a beautiful song that is usually offered on Easter Sunday evening – a song that is rarely heard after sunrise services and easter egg hunts and roasts with families have left our hearts full and our bodies ready for bed.
It’s a song that acknowledges the painful history of the people of God – of immigrants, exiles, and slaves.
It’s a song of the homeless. Of the wanderer. Of the displaced. Of the thirsty – for whom God turns the hard rock into springs of water.
When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.
Psalm 114, New International Version
This Easter Monday, we rejoice in the Good News that Christ is risen.
But, for those who still find themselves in the hard place, may you know in that still, small space where hope hesitantly holds on that you are the sanctuary of God.
May God “split open boulders and bring up bubbling water” day by day as we seek to live as people of the resurrection.