Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Psalm 29, Theophany

Psalm 29

Take a second to click on the link above and read this psalm.  Let the imagery wash over you.  Read a couple of times and pray through it.  What is God saying to you through this psalm?

Some sources say that this is a psalm not original to the people of Israel.  This is of no concern to us.  It is typical in the historical tradition of a faith to adopt practices from religious "neighbors" and make them our own.

Let's learn a new word in considering this psalm: Theophany.  Theophany means "physical manifestation of a deity."  This is a theophany psalm.  The imagery proclaims a God visibly at work and audible.  Cedars are broken, flames of fire, the wilderness shaking all make for glorious imagery--oh, and that too, the people of God crying "Glory!"

Rather than delve too much into how this psalm fits in the Israelite culture, something that I am hardly qualified to do, I would like for us to think about this psalm in terms of its liturgical significance this Sunday.  This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.  The gospel writers paint the picture of the Theophany--Jesus, the son being baptized, the Father proclaiming Jesus, the Christ and the Holy Spirit descending as a dove.  God is made visible in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The baptism of Jesus is in part, the inauguration of his ministry here on earth.

This psalm sings of the voice of the Lord over the waters.  It is over these waters in which Jesus is set apart for ministry.  It is over these waters that the voice of God proclaims Jesus as his son in whom he is well pleased.  These waters seal Jesus with the Holy Spirit, just like you and me.  And, just like you and me, these waters are a covenant binding us with God and making us responsible for the work to be done in a creation that God was well pleased to create.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters, ordaining Jesus, proclaiming his work and sanctifying him of the work ahead.  Without getting into too much baptismal theology (a task that I will gladly reserve for those more qualified), I do want to say that in Jesus' baptism we see a model for living and a pattern that begins with giving.  Jesus gives himself in the waters, "the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," to the work of his Father.  This work is the reconciliation of all things completed in the cross and resurrection.  Just like Jesus, we are set apart in baptism and called to work toward the reconciliation of all things to the Father.  This begins with worship and is extended to the world seeking peace where ever possible and actively engaging in the work of justice and reconciliation.

The voice of the Lord has called you.  This voice is a voice of great power.  Worship him.  This voice melts the earth (psalm 46), it makes the oaks writhe.  Listen to the call.

No comments:

Post a Comment