Today’s Reading: Introit for Sexagesima (Psalm 44:1-2, 7-8; antiphon: v.23, 25a, 26a)
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! (From the Introit for Sexagesima)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes the absence of everything we expected from God is so profound that even the devout begin to ask questions. Where is God? Is it real or is it all just a story? Did He abandon us? The questions seem so jarring to the piety that hangs decorative crosses in the living room and says table prayers by heart. Midwestern politeness that can’t actually call attention to the thing everyone’s thinking about is answered by Middle Eastern prayers of old. “God, it looks like You’re doing a bad job. Get up and do what You promised.”
The psalms that are full of anger and doubt give us not only the vocabulary to speak the questions we all think, but the permission to do so. God wanted you to pray this. “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!” Ask the question out loud, then listen to the same prayer as it speaks the answer. “But You have saved us from our foes.” A past tense victory that seems as much an old story as it is evidence that there should be more cool stuff to see today. It looks bleak and empty, and even the devout are starting to wonder, but God has already saved us.
A victory in the past that somehow affects even a bleak and empty present. An empty tomb contested by the devil, the world, and the reason of the sinful flesh, but marked in history the same as each tragedy that brought us to question it all. It’s already finished. It doesn’t need to be won again just for a little more pizazz today. Christ has already conquered sin, death, and the devil. The Holy Spirit has already united you to this victory in your Baptism. It might look like God is sleeping, but He’s already won the victory. Why would He need to win it again just so you can watch?
The quiet times when we start to wonder are not marks of God’s absence, but evidence that He’s already fought the fight. Now we find Him where He promises to be, in Word and Sacrament. I’d do it differently, but I’m not timeless or all-knowing, or even sinless. Maybe God’s way of doing things differently than I would isn’t proof that He isn’t real, but evidence that there’s Someone big enough to be smarter than I am, someone who would save me anyway. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
To us on earth He came to bring From sin and fear release, To give the Spirit’s unity, The very bond of peace. (“Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death” LSB 697, st.2)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.