Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
--p. 123, Book of Common Prayer

"We do not worship a tame God."

I heard that phrase some time back, and was recently reminded of it again.

We tend to glom onto the "peaceful" images of our connection with God--doves, light, rainbows. But we also tend to forget that God is present in the midst of the fire, storms, and prowling lions of life. Even his son had a stormy side. The same Jesus who preached God's economy of the last being first, and the first being last was the same Jesus who said he came to bring fire and division, the same Jesus who opened up a can of whoopass on the moneychangers in the temple, and the same Jesus who snapped at his beloved disciple Peter to "get thee behind me, Satan."

Neither God nor his son are afraid of a little scrap. That's an important thing to remember.

One of the hardest thing for me to do as an adult is to pray to God when I'm afraid.

For starters, there is this little voice in my head that says adults are not supposed to be afraid. It sits right next to the little voice that tells me I am supposed to be the biggest, baddest thing in the room. My role in my family and extended family for decades has been to be "The strong one." Not to mention "The practical one." "The one who will hold the rest of us up." "The one who will always know what to do." "The one who no burden is too big."

Oh, I'm not afraid of the things I OUGHT to fear, like tornadoes, hurricanes, various storms, lightning, violent and difficult people, blood, gore, mess, and smell.

My fears are actually relatively wussy things. Things like fear of failure. Fear of loss of respect. Fear of emotional abandonment. The fact of the matter is, I don't even like to admit to God I'm afraid, even when I recognize that God is no fool and already knows it.

Isn't it interesting that these things tend to creep into our brains when the sun goes down? In my days rotating through psychiatric units and moonlighting at a psych hospital, we used to talk about "sundowning" all the time. Most people who work in those environments will tell you that something happens after sundown that makes crazy people crazier, and normal people a little crazy.

That realization has always been in the Book of Common Prayer. Even the 1662 BCP includes prayers against perils in Evening Prayer services. It's pretty much the one I pasted above, but in Elizabethan English.

It is, I believe, a very fundamental part of human nature for our fears to come out in the dark. After all, in the days when we were still considered prey for various predators, it was protective. But we no longer need to fear saber-tooth tigers or other meat-seeking beasties. Yet the instinct remains. The instinct is still handy for natural disasters, of course. But, I believe, as we evolved, so did the things we fear, so our fears became more nebulous, less well defined.

It's why we still need the Psalms. Although we now are at a place in civilization where we abhor war (but still seem to do it anyway), we still, I believe, need the comfort of a God who has the capability, but only if necessary, to "kick ass and take names." Not that we WANT him to do it. Not that we wish it upon anyone else. We just want to know the capability is there.

We want to know that the God of Psalm 121 is near us. The God that we can lift up our eyes to the hills and see his posse coming down the mountains to our rescue, like in the old Westerns. We want the God who will deliver us in times of tribulation. We might even accept that "deliver" is not necessarily the posse from the old Westerns. "Deliver" might simply mean, "Just be with me, God. Don't be so far away I can't see you."



The Taizé song I embedded here is another means by which I stave off the perils that arise in my head. I love the line, "let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me." That's where it's at in those times, you know. In so many of those moments of fear, it is OUR doubts and OUR darkness that is trying to get a foothold in the light of our relationship with God.

Yes, some perils really are on the outside. But when you really get to thinking about it, it's like the old Pogo comic strip--we have met the enemy, and they is us.

Our God is not a tame God. But that is because we are not tame people.

3 comments:

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That song also is one of my favorites for the reasons you speak of. Not to be a suckup, but have I mentioned how much I like your writing? It's very thoughtful and accessible.

Thanks!

Don't worry, you'll see me hit a clinker now and then and you won't feel like you are sucking up. LOL

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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