Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1
This ancient psalm was likely used as a hymn-text as well. It comes from a section of the scriptures known to the world-wide Jewish family as (Shirray Hammaloth) or as most of our English bibles say, “A Song Of Ascents.” The songs are the psalms numbered 120 through 134 in the book of Psalms. They were likely sung, possibly in sequence, by Hebrew pilgrims as they went up to Jerusalem to the great worship festivals: “…celebrating their deliverance from slavery in Egypt at the Feast of Passover in the spring; renewing their commitments as God’s covenanted people at the Feast of Pentecost in early summer; and responding as a blessed community to the best that God had for them at the Feast of Tabernacles in the autumn.” (Eugene Peterson)
Jerusalem was the highest city in Palestine, (approximately the same elevation as Asheville) and so all who traveled there spent much of their time ascending. I imagine they also rubbed elbows with one another, laughed together, wept with each other, and perhaps…….as we like to say in the south, “got on each other’s nerves.”
As we begin the Ninth Month of COVID, it sometimes seems that our singing is not with the same gusto which we were expressing at the base of 2020 – as we rang in the new year – when everything was looking up, and life as we once knew it, was relatively predictable and sane. Nine months in we have watched the virus rise and fall and rise again. We’ve witnessed tragic injustice, senseless violence, peaceful demonstrations, looting and burning and mass rallies. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the nation held an election last week. To quote the theologian Cousin Eddie – 2020 is, “the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.” Who can forget the words of his prophetic counterpart Clark W Griswold? “Take a look around…We’re at the threshold of hell!”
So, who am I to argue with a theologian and a prophet? Yet, it seems to me that right here – in the midst of a mostly chaotic time is the very place and time for God to shine – through us. Someone supposedly has said that the Church is the lame racehorse God keeps betting on – and wins!!! So, what are we to do? More importantly, who are we to be at this time? Will we be salt of the earth and light of the world, or will we continue to waste precious time and resources to prove who’s right and who’s wrong?
In his book, The Body Broken, Robert Benson points to the challenge and the opportunity of this point in time.
The walls that we have built between us – the ones built out of fear or pride ignorance – can be taken down. And we who sit on (the) pew must do exactly that. We are the ones who can stop the daily dividing up of the Body of Christ into pieces and, instead, make it more possible for the Christ to be seen in our world.
We must seek out the things that we have in common and at the same time learn to honor the things that make us different. We must learn to take the things that we hold dear – our sense of community, our love for the scriptures, our hunger for prayer, our capacity for worship – and work to make them wide enough and deep enough to include others rather than keep them at a distance.
We must be willing to cultivate humility along with certainty, to practice tolerance along with devotion, to seek patience along with piety.
We must learn to seek the face of the Christ in those who are different as readily as we do in the faces of those who are like us.
We must learn to love one another. [page153-154]
Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief…
Still In ONE Peace,
Jon (the Methodist)
If you would like to view past editions of How Sweet the Sound, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/