Monday, March 25

True Nobility

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
Psalm 16:1-6 

The boundary lines have indeed fallen for me in pleasant places. As a western Christian, I know little of the suffering and uncertainty of so many others, and so I have all the more reason to turn to God for refuge, for God has indeed insulated me from so much of what ails the world. And yet, the witness of believers in other parts of the world—places where food is scarce and water is scarcer, where there is war, where Christians are persecuted—is so much more faithful than my own. Is it really such a marvelous blessing to be so unable to relate to God's suffering sons and daughters? They are indeed the holy ones spoken of in Psalm 16, the true nobility in the kingdom of God (if such a thing there is or ever will be).

In reading the opening of the 16th Psalm, I am especially reminded of this poem written from a Nazi prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer shortly before his execution, so let this be my morning prayer:
By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
and confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
still evil days bring burdens hard to bear.
O give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.

And when this cup you give is filled to brimming
with bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good, and so beloved, a hand.

Yet when again, in this same world, you give us
the joy we had, the brightness of your sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be yours alone.
von guten mächten wunderbar geborgen
Because this song is such an important part of my own spirituality, I have posted a different arrangement of it at the New Year. This solo version is equally as beautiful, though in a different way. Unfortunately, I can find no video of it using the UCC's tune for this hymn (Bonhoeffer), which is no less lovely than the tune the Germans use.

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