Wednesday, March 21--Psalm 118
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
Let those who fear the LORD say, "God's steadfast love endures forever."
Call to Worship/Prep Rally--
On Monday afternoon, I read into this Psalm as a prep rally.
Near the end of the twentieth century, at the University of Georgia, many (students, faculty, alumni, locals, etc.) would gather in our red and black fan garb for Georgia Football Games. Hairy Dawg (the mascot who at the time was also a family friend) and that guy with the hankie & bullhorn helped raise the din of excitement among the crowd. "That guy" would whip that hankie around and start chants; didn't even matter if the team was on the field or not. Like a cantor or like the Psalmist, "that guy" or even Hairy Dawg who would simply mimic "that guy" called us to worship, which is what commentators say is the first part of Psalm 118. And that fed right into our assumption:
(vs 6) "With the LORD on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?"
It was pretty much a given at those UGA games that God was wearing robes of red, black and gray and the Hound of Heaven was a bulldog. God was indeed on our side.
But, we all think that, don't we, that God is on our side?
These lenten reflections are about the "Now" interpretation, and I took this Psalm to City Hall on Monday night for the Historical Preservation Commission Hearing, regarding 67 Prospect Street.
Forty five minutes into the presentation by the land use attorney, I heard that psalmist tapping me on the shoulder—"steadfast."
The audience was so attentive! We were trying to understand the ordinances and something "225-D" of something else, that was repeated several times. We were hearing every detail from the back of a man's silver hair. He was steadfast. The house of 67 Prospect Street is steadfast, too. Chairperson Silver of the Commission reiterated to the room that "we are hearing you." And the steadfast presentation finally took a turn.
Many of the psalms take a turn. Psalm 118 does too. Some say that this Psalm is an entire worship service in one song, and it takes many turns. After the pep rally of praise, we eventually get to:
(vs 25) Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!
O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
Now, this sounds like the Palm Parade with Jesus waved into Jerusalem. "Save us," is a realization that God might not be on our side, and revelation that maybe we can choose to be on God's side. "Save us!" is still the chant of a crowd looking for victory.
After the presentation by the developer's lawyer at the commission hearing, the audience was invited to share their opposition to the demolition of the Prudden Property.
"Steadfast love"- Lawyers and youth and history teachers and members of the garden club and members of the historical society and a pastor I know, spoke about steadfast reasons to maintain the property and not build over potential burial grounds. Beautiful quotes were offered, as effective as whipping around that hankie at the football game. One of the last speakers was Jan Wattnem who unfolded a family tree, leading back 14 generations to Peter Prudden and up to little Penny, who is Jan's granddaughter.
I witnessed Steadfast love.
Prayer: "O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." Thank you, Lord. Amen. (vs. 29)
PS. To any UGA fans or alumni, I could have been a better fan when I attended, but I believe my family made up for me. And does every team/college have "that guy?"
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