A Song of Ascents.
1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the Lord.
3 May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.
This is the final Song of Ascent, those psalms that pilgrims may have sung as they approached Jerusalem or the Temple districts. It is an invitation to prayer addressed to those who stand by night in the house of the Lord.
We are living in a kind of night now, as the pandemic eclipses life as it was before. What kinds of prayers are uttered in the night? Honest prayers. Vulnerable prayers. Prayers that groan or weep or wrestle. Prayers of gratitude. Prayers of earnest supplication. Real prayers.
The great gift of the psalms is that they invite and enable prayers we would not want heard in the light of day: earnest laments that explode with rage, tremble with fear or curse the source of our pain. We can even shake our fist towards God: Why have You allowed this to happen? God can hold it. It has all been prayed before. The relationship we are offered with the Holy is intimate and truthful; the veil of pretence has long been torn. And once we offer the raw pain of the real to the Source of our being, we may sense the quiet presence of the One whose love will not let us go.
As the days and weeks of this pandemic unfold, our emotions may surprise us and our losses confound us. Our patience is tested; we come to the end of our ropes. We snap. We struggle. We give thanks for small mercies. Through it all, through the destabilising uncertainties and unsettling “new normal”, we can rely on the reality that God is. The earth may rock and roll, the nations may roar, but God remains, steadfast and sure, ready to catch our tears and set us on our feet, steady and strengthened to do what must be done.
Carla A. Grosch-Miller