The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
I did not meet the criteria to get into Oxford University. I did apply. But I didn’t get in. I turned up a day late for the interview, I interviewed like a muppet (the college described me as a “rather slow thinker”) and I didn’t get good enough grades in my exams. All in all, I didn’t even come close.
Today’s psalm asks a question at the beginning about who gets to go in:
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
King David (yes, him again) then answers the question by listing 12 (yes, 12!) characteristics of the person who can get into God’s sacred tent or live on His holy mountain (both of these images represent living close to God, in His very presence). The list is profoundly challenging. And all of us will fail to achieve it and therefore should not get in. But (and it’s a big but), the wonderful offer of Jesus is that we get to come into God’s presence, and live there every day not because we manage to fulfil all 12 of these criteria but:
since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
So the 12 things in our psalm cease to be a list of entry requirements – but an invitation of how to live once we are already in. So, here is the rest of the psalm. Pray now that God will highlight one of them to you that he want you to grow in today, and in the unusual time that we are living in:
2 The one whose way of life is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbour,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honours those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
May God fill us all with His Spirit today.
God bless you, Matt