Monday, 19 December 2011

texting psalms 42-72

Poetry pslamming and that. Come seek a God who is there, withwards with words. Happily of a morning. 07729056452

Ps42 Pants. There are those who see breathless and knackered Christians staggering through a fruitless damaging Christian life. With one who sees such, last night was a long v3 'Where is your God?' conversation and a remembrance of throngs past. A Lk24v21 'We had hoped..' (Resurrection comes in tomorrow's chapter) Be lead, beloved and believe. We are the belead, lead by a Jn1v9 light full of grace and Jn1v14 truth. Hopesing all things for today, for us, for our households, for sober conversations with tipsy colleagues.

Ps43-44 43v3 'Send your light and your truth; may they lead me, and bring me back to Zion' – puts me in mind of what we wait for this advent. Waiting for Jesus, the explosively scandalously incarnate God. I feel like I only touch the hem of Jesus' cloak but I want to look him in the face, for I believe that Jesus is v4 the source of my happiness. Bring us back, God, bring us back to Zion, bring us back to the nativity scene. 44v1 The nativity scene is like this, as all the gospels, as every individual testimony – we've heard stories, but Jesus we desire that you walk off the pages of the text. you are v21 the God who knows our secret thoughts, you know who we love, how we hurt, how we bear false witness. you come to us, light and truth, among the mixed motives and schizophrenic emotions of the psalms, among questions, frustrations & sufferings let those we love see the incarnate God meeting us in these, especially those in church pain.

Ps45-46 Stirred and skillful, learnt and scriptural // here is a worshipping word: marital // In singing harmonic lyrics of love // Together Up In and Out we are of // a God we are known by // Oh God would we show thy // Wedding day allegories from above .. Form over function frequently in my poetic excursies. There are affirmations offered here to the He and the She which need not be exclusive or sufficient or definitive. But they are a necessary starting point, to speak these over the He's who would seek God in their gender, and the She's who would seek God in theirs. Prayers for He, v2 for grace graced lips, for a joy annointment, imparted gladness, v2/4 for humble handsomeness (vs vanity, vs contempt for his body) v4 for the leaving of travelling away from home in the defence of justice, v6 for the royal confidence and its respective submission to a duty to serve the gift of inheritance, v5 for the excellent targeted use of technology to achieve God's commission. And She, that she would know that she enthralls, you enthrall the King, you are a desired delight, embellish celebrate frame and declare, unambiguously, this is a body and person that God made v13 glorious, wonderful in its form, and for She, for companions, praying and wishing the excellence of this for you, against mere association of all the poisonous ways of gathering and cruel lonely unknownness, oh for sagacious discipling companionship, for wise women and their apprenticing an excellence in the tacit ways of womanning. 46 Very present help. Image this God. May we be present and very present to those who need help. Oh He is with us, He is God.

Ps47-48 Adoration first. God I do, I will, I will choose to worship you even if all else falls apart. You are God. 48 I read this Psalm on my birthday this year, in a time of desperate prayer. Cement these words in us God. This is a psalm for the desperate. Knowing our v3 v8 safety in God is sufficient for our being able to risk all things, you know? Hear this again. We are safe in God, we can risk all whilst smiling. Taking v6-7 out of context, thinking about maritime analogies vs birthing analogies (falling slowly playing in this afternoon's coffeeshop. God?) Let us embrace the hope and the fear of the birth metaphor for this time, teach us the risk, the adventure, of new things, of unknowns, of responsibilities. Speak into us what this metaphor means concretely in the present, in real life. Come Lord Jesus, thank you that you teach us patiently, thank you for being my fortress.

Ps49-50 Issuing a call for more riddling v4 hymns in our hymnal. The plated cake and Christianity's excellent answer to the question of suffering. We are not only free to choose to calibrate our suffering (as Buddhists) on an eternal scale, but we can flip the scale which measures suffering upside-down. Indulge me a little confectionery exploration. There is a relationship between cake on the plate and pie in the sky. Can we say that if we deny pie we will know not how to bake cake? Could we even say that the very ingredients of our cake are but pie crusts and crumbs that fall from heaven's table, that all culture is only a doggy-bag take-away trickle-down from the communion table? Outside of this metaphor, the 'understanding' that distinguishes v20 from v12, is a resurrection reality, and in that is a death-subverting, suffering-redeeming joy that surpasses all cake: our suffering redeemer who redeems suffering: the baked goods (Jn4v34) on his plate were shame, pain and death. Food and aforethought: let us plan for suffering, even let us plan to suffer. Ps50, briefly. As we do bread and eat suffering, let us never presume it is a duty paid to a God who needs performance. v12 He is the cake-baking, pie-making, all-sufficient One. Every other purveyor of cake and circuses is a fake, oh 49v14 sheep, beware the lights of London, beware the yeast of the Pharisees. Come Jesus to a ravenous London. Come Jesus, v12 unhungry one, give us today, make us today, be for us today our daily bread.

Ps51-52 Psalm 51 Oh everything I love about this God, truth in the inmost parts, truth deep in my bones, deep deep truth, deep mercy, deep love, unspeakable mysterious life. Oh joy and gladness, the old has gone the new has come. Keep us away from boring objectifying and that, keep us in your temple, keep our hearts broken and contrite and wondering at this beauty truth. So 51v10-12 repeated today, a sinner's prayer, again and again. 'Renew' has been the word of the day. New-ness, surprising and unexpected, like being in a foreign country, alive to the sights and sounds... & 'steadfast' – feels like the anti-thesis of (re)newness, if newness is a child-like unexpected pleasure, the steadfastness is a bit grown-up, it plans ahead and puts down deep roots. but oh, both of these. How these come together is a mystery to me, but they do, this is the life possible. God we need you more than breathing, this is why you cannot leave us, oh Holy Spirit, come close, to restore the joy of your salvation, remembering the freedom of this God. Sustain us, gifting us with willingness, a plea to remake us, reconfigure the architecture of our minds so our wills align with yours. Being here (52v8-9 be as a tree)

Ps53-54 54v4 Behold, God is my helper. When we are beheld, is God, conspicuously, our helper? Let us make public our predicaments, publish our problems, and live a life examined that 53v6 when, not if, God saves, God would get the praise. We live as demonstrations of our convictions, as demonstrations of the possible, before a watching, waiting, doubting, hurting world; a v3 fallen away world, an v4 ignorant world. We live in a God-made God-saved world. This needs to be said, this needs to be sung, this needs to be leant upon as flying buttresses in our plausibility cathedral, with a passion for its beauty and an urgency to its structure.

Ps55-56 The fear of intimacy is the fear of this, of abandonment, of love unreturned. There are wounded people all around us, betrayed by those they love, and wounded people wounding other people, and begeting wounded children. v22 God is the defender lover healer of this pain, and I feel in this our call to image God in being safe places for people, for being trustworthy, as God is v23 trustworthy. God let us be unforsaken unforsakers, the hands that hold the hands of those in relational pain. It is such a fearful thing, that which people can do to other people, both these psalms are full of warring. I am more exposed to BBC News 24 in this house than normal: our world is full of warring. Persecution, abuse and unkindness, and I am overwhelmed and afraid as 55v4-5 I want to hide from this volume of war: on why we wish for wings v6 like Conor's eagle in FishTank, escapism not real freedom. Jesus teach me neither flinching nor numbness to war, teach me to pray for a world at war, I don't know how to. v9-10 There are riots in this city, there is destruction inthis world. Let me not read these lamenting Psalms as a bourgeois individual existential angst, but a plead for deep mercy justice peace restoration for a world at war. There is no hope without God. But. There. Is. A. God. Christ the suffering servant, the prince of peace, Christmas miracle, we believe in you to make beauty from ashes. We plead that 56v13 the world would walk in the light of your presence.

Ps57-58 Till the storms. There is a memory of ones I have known who have been weathered by hurricanes, and they are marked by a right sense of awe. v8 Awake my glory. My glory, interchangeable with 'my soul', (with perhaps an emphasis more on the centre and pinnacle of your being, where 'soul', to my mind, connotes a certain sum of your invisible/visible parts?) People disbelieve in the soul, or at least problematise it, or at least neglect it. Let us speak with them of their glory, that which is noble in reason, infinite in faculty, admirable and angelic. That which, beneath woozy eyes and fickle heart, is there is them, albeit disfigured. So my glory is disbelieved, it can also be asleep. The process of waking profits some meditation. I, and neither my soul, am not a machine to be simply switched on. A spiritual rousing, a caffienating cold shower collecting of ones thoughts and arranging of the imagination's furniture, a flinging open of the eye's curtains, a muscle-stretching of the heart strings, a sun-warming on the skin. Awake my soul, in all of my sense and sense of the possible in God's world. 58 Refearing God, lest we forget. This passage is directed at the powerful v1 you gods, you mighty lords. This is not them, this is us. We, western white young professionals, are tyrants by default, unless-otherwise-stated, from the womb, v3, and we stop out ears v4, that by willed ignorance we might go on in comfort while the world that serves us goes to hell. Our privilege is not unrelated to the underprivileged. FishTank is real, is near, is within my power to alleviate, albeit in small ways. Boring Christianity internalises faith, domesticates God and trivialises injustice: By. Doing. Nothing. Oh God, awake my soul and put me to work among the nations. For joy.

Ps59-60 God, we give you thanks & praise, that when we were still far off, you met us in your Son & brought us home. We are far from you in our 59v2 evil, v3 cruelty, v4 hurriedness, v12 pride, false witness. We are like snarling dogs. And Jesus, you have come to transform this. You have heard the Psalmist's cry to 60v2 heal the wounds of the Earth, this is your project and purpose in Jesus (thank you), but you have not done so by the kind of destructive might envisaged by the Old Testament worldview 59v11 60v5. No, you saved, save, will save the world with the kind of vulnerability that makes possible a love that is stronger than death. Impossible extravagant God, we wonder worship marvel around the manger this morning, believing in our bones that everything is different because Christ was born, the universe has imploded and been made new again. From yesterday: Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill you with peace and make you partakers of the divine nature; & the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. // So I am spoken to about the way that Bethlehem's birth is that through which the new earth and heaven come to be, through Jesus God makes our home and his the same, through Jesus we can imagine a starry London.

Ps61-62 Awake my soul 62v1/5 O wait my soul. Patience. Waiting when it is hard, waiting when it hurts, waiting when it is called foolish, we wait to listen, we wait to be stretched in faith, stretched out like pre-stressed concrete, we wait because true love waits, we wait because those who do renew their strength, we wait because waiting qua waiting anticipates and conspicuously speaks, to everyone who sees you on the platform, that you believe God's train will come. .. We are transitive verbs in transition. Playing with words perhaps muddies the truth I want to express. We are not faithing into the void, God is there, a rock. When I express, 'I trust God' (transitive) the God there is less than fully rockish in my sense of his substance. Would that I might become (transition) one who knows God as I know rocks, bricks and solid ground. .. God save the Queen 61v6 and prayers for our country. My neither/nor position of detached critique defined sceptically against the excesses of our state and the failures of capitalism take for granted that which is God-given in the peace of the governance of England, and hold in contempt the police and everything that works well. Pray with me against my tendency to unteachable scorn, aloof idealism and ingratitude in the face of social v10 riches. .. v8 Ever sing and daily vow. So this is public and worship, but what is a vow? How do we vow? What, actively, is our part in the covenant, daily? .. 62v2 He alone. There is a false refuge at play in the regressive immaturities that surface in me at home, and it is a running from (refugee) the battle of serving the parents well by speaking and strengthing such as to differentiate this season as their loving loved but undependent offspring. This is a desperate prayer, for growing up. My emotional sufficiency and grounds for bold adventuring must come from God first and should be sufficient from him if they were to come from him alone, because the gospel we preach with our lives must be good news to orphans. Have a phrased that without dichotomising? It is to fight escapsim in my life, that holds me back and indulges the fantasies of both me and the parents. Happy homes yes. But we are a mission home. We rest in God's refuge and eat from God's supply and it is urgent to do this conspicuously. Oh God, grow me up. Our refuge, rescue us.

Ps63 v1 God you are my God and I long for you, my whole being desires you like a dry and worn-out land, like the desert in need of water, like the Arctic tundra in need of sun. Longing, aching, hungry, thirsty, desperate. God we are desperate. I cannot pretend I don't long for you, need you. I do desperately do, it's the reason I cannot leave. v2 let me see you, please let me see you, let me glimpse your face to look you in the face, please be near, be close, do not be far off, please do not hide from us. Please let me touch you, brush my fingers up against you, v8 I cling to you, I need you, I need your assurance God, you are my safety. Nothing and no-one else will do. I cry out to you. My body knows it was made to worship a God who is real, my voice made to worship, we need you. My mind is small and cluttered and confused without you God, my heart heavy and oppressed without you, and v5 my soul starved without you. But v7 in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. Oh I love to be here, shadow of God's wings.

Ps 65-66 There is a spiritistic worldview that considers all of nature to be animated by a host of spirits. The hills are alive here, and all of creation's tree's Is55v12 hands clapping and rocks Lk19v40 crying out are but a poet's inflection away from an Avatarian delight in a thoroughly personal universe. Avatar goes awry in divinising a closed system, but the personal universe, we live on the cusp of that allegory, the fulcrum of that head of a pin, the wire walked between heresy and vacuity, but there dance we. .. v4 Dwelling in your courts.. the goodness of your house. Nearness. Who has courts today? Is this language of proximity still current? God, we dwell in your zone 1? Perhaps/ We work for an alternative, redistributed nodality, but there is a centredness to our being-with God gatherings. Ours is a festival clustering, contrasted with the financial fortress clusterings of the City. 66V11,12 We and us. Let's sing about us, a Londonist hymnal. Let's tell a story that's not in an international style, not in a lowest common denominator language, let's write lyrics only we can sing, about somewheres only we know, irreducible Places. For everything that is bizarre and wrong with the Jerusalem hymn at least it frames the picture and asks the question: Did those feet? Did they build? Could we? Here?

Ps67 Still Jesus. Still Jesus, born to transform mercy justice. Still Jesus who tells us of the kindness of God. Still Jesus who sets about transforming us to that others take notice. Still Jesus who restores relationships, who is salvation itself, the hope of nations. This sixty=seventh for Jesus-centred missional dwelling.

Ps68 Evil melts like wax in the prescence of God. This is why I melt in the presence of God. (Even now, God, would you allow me close, confessing, to be me melted down again). This is why we cannot really come before God and stay the same, the heat of His holiness will destroy what we are, He can't but not, as in Ps22v14, my heart of stone melted down to be transformed into a heart of flesh Ez36v26, even now. This is a song of triumph, but one has to play, participate and perservere in order to taste this. The GNB translation of v13: “why did some of you stay among the sheep pens on the day of battle?” - Why did you do what was convenient but better good? Let's not be in the wrong place, let's be in the thick of it.

Ps69-70 Visiting Shame throughout, because persecution, fellowship and worship are all intersubjective. .. I find here: Zeal. Humility. Seeking. Thanksgiving. ~ which I have resisted manhandling into an ACTS correspondence, but it almost could... Zeal. Zeal v9 entails a profound shamelessness Rm1v16. Zeal's zealousness is somewhat like Marmite by analogy of distinctiveness. Love it, Hate it v4. Without [moral] cause. Perhaps our psalmist is not bated from a cause, but for a cause. Rebels without a cause delight to hate, and the zealous, by their marmite aroma, 2Cor2v16, present themselves for reproach v9 on God's behalf. Humility. The repentance of v6 recognises our unity as a church. As with church pain, there is also church shame, we are one body because we are all tarred with the one brush. So, repent, when you bring reproach, and remember, when you bear reproach, that we are not better than them. Seeking. 70v4 69v5. Let us be and be known as those who seek, who love, who hope, who seek: we are seekers Mt6v33, sought Lk9v10. .. Thanksgiving. V30 Magnifying glasses and the optics of making God visible. Sensitive seekers, with your senses seek him, pore (and pour) over his world, with wide eyes, that by the light in your eyes, he would be known.

Ps71 A Psalm for New Year's Eve, a prayer for the steady rush of days ahead, thankfulness for what has been, hope for the future, and desperate dependence in the present moment. God, thank you for all that is swept up in you, the womb's nurturing and the faithful grey-haired. Our necessarily intersubjective existence includes our being necessarily intergenerational, try as we might to escape it..prayers for our grandparents, parents, siblings, children. For those unborn for whom we will be especially responsible, for those so old we are especially responsible. v17-18 Thank you for what has been, please keep us faithful.

Ps72 When Jesus reigns in fullness, people will v16 blossom in the cities, ah. There is so much we cannot say about this fullness, about how (v7) the sun and the moon may be transformed, the fabric of existence so other than at present, but we can taste, embody, pursue taste something of the heavenly city: it's v12 deliverance, v13 salvation, v14 liberation, peace, recognition of the value of each life, v15 continual prayer, abundance and flourishing for all. Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

200words: mcelheny at whitechapel

“For now we see through a glass, darkly...” 1Corinthians 13:12a
McElheny gifts us with a kaleidoscopic remix of the end of history, a disbelieving backward glance through a shattered rear-view mirror. We, twenty-first century gallery goers, delight to piece together the glittery pluperfect remains of an abstracted past we don't even believe in?
“So either you can believe there is this thing called history, which is [...] a linear narrative with a definable thrust to it, or you could say that there's just a lot of different stories” Josiah McElheny, 2010
There is a lot of different stories. The safest story is the story of me, myself and my subjectivity: that on peering down the well of so-called history, we see only our reflected, storied selves staring back at us. The mirrors, which abound in this piece, reflect this notion of history while also conspiring to manifest a narcissist's rogues gallery?
“The more fearful this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.” Paul Klee, 1915
So, in a difficult world, as moths to a proverbial lamp, we cluster in galleries for the comfort of flickering globes and ambient sound, the therapy of an abstracted reality, for self-medicated hypnosis under the legitimating guise of high culture?
“..seeing one of these moths that have met their end in my house, I wonder what kind of fear and pain they feel while they are lost.” WG Sebald, Austerlitz p133
What images we do make out through the haze and fractures: the lightening strikes, lolloping storks, and corridors, are intriguing and beautiful, as glimpses into a hope deferred, a modernist's heartsickness, signs of a definable thrust? Dear ones, it's not too late to know, be known, and to be reconciled to our past.
“...but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1Corinthians 13:12b