This Sunday, Grace Kernersville begins a new series on the Psalms. In this series we will be looking at the prayers of the Psalter and how these Bible prayers can become the language of the heart. In them we discern an ongoing dialogue between the psalmist and God, between us and the psalmist, between the psalmist and their own circumstances, and even between the psalms themselves. In this ongoing dialogue, we are given the tools to chart a course through our circumstances, feelings, and experience into a walk with God through life. A walk that is entered into by faith.
In the Psalms, we keep company with the righteous whether that is David, Moses, Asaph, Solomon, the sons of Korah or countless unattributed authors. It is good company. and though the circumstances, language, and metaphors are a bit different than our own, we hear in their voices the same fear, confusion, need, gratitude, and thanksgiving.
I am growing in my appreciation of the Psalms — a reality that probably exposes my shallow and slow-wittedness. Since the beginning of Ordinary Time, we have continued to meet via Zoom to pray for the thirty minutes each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening at 7:00pm. I’ve called this time Ordinary Prayer.
The psalms are ordinary prayers. They were composed by kings and prophets and sung by shepherds and fisherman. They were good for singing in the Temple, and they were good for the Galilean countryside. These are the words and word pictures of God’s people who themselves, like us, fought the fight of faith in the midst of extraordinary events and ordinary days.
Along with praying the the Psalms, I’ve undertaken, it seems, a project to paraphrase them. I have a bit of a poetic sensibility, and recognize the value of translating through metaphor and different words in order to get at the meaning. Some of the psalms can be difficult for us to translate so that they mean something to us. Once however, we get to their meaning, we find that they express the life of faith, the desires of the heart, and the needs of those who find themselves in a place where there is nothing left but to pray.
Here’s a stab at Psalm 12, which we will be looking at tonight during Ordinary Prayer. The psalmist speaks of the toxicity of the rumors and lies of the world. I found, as I read it, that it speaks very much of today’s social media climate and so I paraphrased the psalm in an attempt to make use of social media’s toxicity and our ability to trust and see the worth of all the Lord’s words or maybe, his “posts.”
Help! I’ve no friends left.
All the good and godly have disappeared from among Adam’s kids.
Not a good one remains.
On social media, they’re all cool and chill
But their secret heart speaks hate and lies.
May the Lord unplug all your devices
And silence your streaming feeds of lies,
You who say, “With our algorithms and bots,
Who can silence our posts?”
Because they steal from the poor,
Because those who need are targets,
Because they have no words but groans,
I will help them myself, says the Lord.
I will lift their eyes from their screens
And show them the place for which they’ve longed.
The Lord speaks with a single heart,
And his posts are worth it: true and bright.
You couldn’t compose them better if you had a week.
The Lord means what he says;
He’ll defend you from the mob.
The trolls are out there around every corner,
And the filth they post is praised by Adam’s kids.