“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised…” (Psalm 113:3)
I have struggled to find the words for today’s reflection, because across Australia lockdowns continue and many I know are weary and broken. I am wary of what Australian writer Kathy Lette has condemned as “lockdown positivity”. Although my state’s extension of lockdown today has not really impacted me – I was going to be in quarantine for another week anyway because of a positive case at my school – I know some who are despairing because of it, and so I want to tread gently with my words today.
But this morning as I saw the sun rise in vermilion wonder over my locked down backyard I was drawn out of lockdown blues to the words of Psalm 113 which begins by turning us to praise and concludes with the comforts that an almightily tender God gives His people:
“He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.” (Psalm 113:7-9)
Life will present us with ample reasons to reject these words. The poor are rarely seated at tables with princes. Many women remain childless who would dearly love to be mothers. Lockdowns continue and spirits flag. So what comfort is Psalm 113?
Well, the message of this morning’s sunrise to me was to look beyond. The breaking in of the sun’s colours into our atmosphere and over my garden fence reminded me of glories and wonders that I only vaguely comprehend. And that’s what Psalm 113 points us to, I think: a glory and a consolation beyond what earthly lives can apprehend. Ultimately it points us to a God who not only puts the poor at the same table as princes but – wonder of locked-down wonders – breaks into our earthly isolation and sits at the table of feasting with us.
Until then, He is with us in the dust heap, with nonetheless-beauties to point us to what is yet to come.