Be God’s Presence

Let the nations not say, “Where is their God?”

Before our eyes let it be known among the nations

that You avenge the spilled blood of Your servants.

Let the groans of the prisoners reach You;

reprieve those condemned to death,

as befits Your great strength.

Pay back our neighbors sevenfold

for the abuse they have flung at You, O Lord.

Then we, Your people,

the flock You shepherd,

shall glorify You forever;

for all time we shall tell Your praises.

Psalm 79:10-13

Consider the Psalmist’s concern here. He cries out to God for relief amidst the toil and smudge of destruction and decay. He sees Israel sinking into the mud and cannot be silent.

But he does not simply utter simple quietist pieties and pray that God’s will be done, as if some milquetoast acknowledgement that Israel’s degradation is the choice of our Creator. He tries to spur God on, stimulating him to action, reminding Him of the nations’ scorn and derision. No, the Psalmist knows God’s will, and this is not it. God’s will is not mere acceptance of the domination of the powerful or the destruction of those ignorant of a better way. God’s will is not the despair of those who have lost all sight of hope or the acedia of those stuck in place. God’s will is that the world be made right again.

In the face of power too great, we shouldn’t merely accept its legitimacy as divinely ordained, but fly in the face of it. For we know the one who grants true legitimacy, and He does not oppress the widow, the refugee, the orphan, the lost, the lonely, or the broken. When you pray, do as the Psalmist does. Be willing to acknowledge that God’s will is not here yet. Pray for his action.

Acknowledge that God is not present as he should be. Don’t be satisfied with apologetics that divinize injustice, with a theology that cannot stand up for the marginalized, with a God that is only there to reassure your comfortable lifestyle. This world needs healing. This world needs you, the you God created you to be.

Then go out and be God’s presence in the world.


The Holy Innocents

For those young people who have been brutally abused during this past year, a year during which I have become far more acquainted with the horrors of traumatized youth than I would have wished.

The Coventry Carol, a hauntingly beautiful song in which mothers sing lullaby to their children, doomed to die at the hand of Herod’s need for power whatever the cost.