During this time when we daily hear news of new infections, of conflicts about how best to keep others safe, and of deaths, I’ve been just bowled over by the relevance of the Psalms. Our Daily office leaders are praying Morning and Evening Prayer as they normally would, only at home, and the clergy are offering it online, and those offices are grounded in just praying through the Psalter, over and over. Nearly every Monday when I am livestreaming Morning Prayer, there is at least one verse in the Psalms that I appreciate in a way I never have before.
A large number of the Psalms, like Psalm 66 today, refer to experiences of plague, isolation, illness, defeat, loneliness, and despair. They model a language for bringing things like that to God and considering them in the light of his loving power. And you know, for all my time as a priest, I’ve had to sort of re-frame these Psalms for people, because apart from exceptions like a tragic event or a national crisis like Sept 11th, most of my parishioners have been more or less protected from this constant vulnerability to death and isolation and defeat that the Psalms just presume all human beings regularly experience.
But now we’ve spent several weeks in a situation where we cannot hide from our own vulnerability. We cannot hide from the fact that we need help from one another to stay emotionally healthy, or that human bodies are subject to illness and death. I cannot hide from the fact that I have no control over whether some random person who decides not to respect public health guidelines infects my 87 year old father and sends him to the ICU. And right there is the moment when I need the Psalms. Let’s read from today’s. The text is below, or you can hear our Choirmaster chant it in one of the other videos today: