Tragedy and violence dominate the lectionary readings : it’s a hard batch to swallow, but trust in the goodness of God! All the more as we take in the latest news about the state of the planet!
If you’ve read though the still raw and crushing witness of Lamentations 1, you might need a good cup of tea or something stronger to face the accompanying Psalm. Is it possible to read Psalm 137 without – for my generation at least – a fond memory of Boney M’s hit setting of ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ – and then stumble on the uncensored curse of verses 4 to 6?
And yet I also recall how that hymn/song became a beautiful informal focus of unity in a global Christian conference I attended for the United Reformed Church in Jamaica, with descendants of those who had known slavery, singing along.
Scripture can always surprise. The frequently marginalised prophet Habbakuk firmly pins blame where it belongs: and for us, this means accepting that climate change is not ‘natural”, but has human causes. Psalm 37 can better be grasped with an awareness of partnership with the land, and gives sustenance to those inclined just to give up because of the ‘prospering’ of evil. 2 Timothy offer a personal and intimate encouragement to the community of the church, and in Luke 17 Jesus delivers a wake-up call to those of his first disciples who expected to sit back and be made ‘faithful’ without the engagement and commitment that entails.
Highlighting the importance of how we read, rather than just that we read scripture, consider the consciously ‘restrained’ reading (video) of the shocking words of Psalm 137 by Pat Ellison of the Scottish Episcopal Institute: https://vimeo.com/724767658
Probationer minister Gillean Richmond, who undertook a placement with the EcoChaplaincy as part of her training contributes the first set of prayers, finding a delightful form of address for the ‘Magnificent Mystery’ of God.
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A reading of Psalm 137: Pat Ellison, Scottish Episcopal Institute
Major video reflection : Roots in the Earth; roots in the Church..
Gospel Reading associated with this reflection.