You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Wilderness is one of the most powerful images of the Lenten experience. It evokes memories of testing, temptation, wrestling. Different translations suggest this psalm came out of times when the writer had been in arid places spiritually. The references to a dry and weary land could refer to any experience of darkness or alienation. Yet the greater part of these words is a profound affirmation of God`s presence arising from times of worship in the sanctuary. Memories of experiencing holiness, peace, beauty, space and strength overflow into other moments of life. So, even in dry times, even when the writer suffers from the contradictions of conflict with others, memories from the temple give assurance for future peace. In contrast to some expressions of religion, the God who is here celebrated and loved is not austere, judgmental or one whose love has to be earned. In this eloquent testimony to the One who is so real, it may ask us if bells ring for our own sense of God. Is worship in church an experience of renewal?
What do we value most when we go to church? What, in our involvement in church services, gives a sense of God? Do we find that worship can nourish us at every level, as might a rich feast.
God of creation,
mystery and the holy place,
draw us to yourself.
God of love,
forgiveness and tenderness,
be our new life.
Alasdair Pratt is a retired minister and former moderator of General Assembly
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