Greetings St. Liz,
The Woods family is very excited to begin our time with you this coming week. It has been a long hot summer for us as I am sure it has been the same for you.
I am writing this after standing outside with our oldest daughter, Harper, as we watched a nice little summer rainstorm pour down upon us. It was just long enough that it knocked the heat out of the air and left a cool breeze in its wake. It was cool enough that we actually felt like spending more than ten minutes outside after the storm passed. ...Read More
The Book of Psalms: A River of Prayer by guest writer Thom Rockby Thom Rock on January 23, 2020
so longs my soul for you, O God
St. Elizabeth Adult Sunday School to Resume February 2, 2020
In my brief time here in Texas, I have come to respect the mighty power of water. We notice its absence in times of drought, and delight in its liquid mercy when it falls like grace from the skies. Unless, of course, it comes as a sudden downpour, the likes of which I’ve only seen here in the Lone Star State. Water can quench or inundate; it can relieve, rejuvenate, sustain or challenge. The Edwards Aquifer yields gallons of water for the millions of taps and faucets in the greater Austin area, while Barton Springs steadfastly offers a refreshingly cold splash even in the longest stretch of a triple-digit heat wave. And then there’s the river that winds its way through Buda—the Onion Creek—reputedly the longest creek in Texas at nearly sixty miles long, and whose banks provided dreams of hope and home and new beginning to formerly enslaved African Americans after the Civil War. Or the peaceful holiday waters of Ladybird Lake, with its kayakers and paddle-boarders; or even the troubled waters of the Rio Grande.
I don’t know exactly what I was imagining, but the first time this Northerner caught a glimpse of that borderland river up close it didn’t look at all like I had pictured it in my mind. The river gently rippled opaline before me, obeying the laws of the universe and wending its way surely home to the sea. A breeze whispered the tall grasses along the bankside; a man groomed and exercised his horses nearby, eventually bringing them to the river to water them. Indeed, if it were not for the constant reminder of the Customs and Border Protection vehicle that sat idling nearby the entire time I was there, I might even have considered the bend in the river where I stood a place of tranquility and calm.
Whatever side of that river you’re on, there is an ocean of emotion surrounding it. Though the river is a place of hopefulness, aspiration, and liberation—and even beauty—it is also a place of anger, fear, frustration, outrage and trepidation. If the river has a song (as most rivers do if you listen closely), it would surely be the gut-wrenching, God-praising hymnbook we call the Psalter. The Psalms, like the river, overflow with human emotion—with anguish, lament, and despair, as well as joyful praise and thanksgiving. And they wend their way not only through the Holy Scriptures and our Prayer Book, but also down through the ages to us here and now. Remarkable in their raw honesty and tender intimacy, the Psalms reflect the full spectrum of human emotion and human response to a life of faith—from the anguish expressed in the cry: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (22:1), to the ecstatic praise and thanksgiving in the ebullient call: “Let the rivers clap their hands, and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord” (98:9). In periods of our own spiritual drought or doubt, not only can the poetic language of the Psalms still help and comfort; when we pray them, we also become tributaries joining a long river of faithful doubters and believers who have prayed them before us. Part poetry, part hymn, the Psalms are far more, though, than simply musical or literary forms to those who pray them. Like the river, they sustain; they are daily bread.
Beginning February 2, adult Sunday school will resume at St. Liz, meeting from 9:45-10:45 in between our two services. For the next few months we will dip our toes into the ancient waters of the Psalter, and wade into that great river of prayer so foundational to our faith. Whether you stick around after the early service, or come early before the later service; come for one or some or all of the classes, I hope you’ll join me in this adventure in exploring together the depths of the Book of Psalms.