18 June 2022
Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
18 June 2022 (Psalm 115)
I was supposed to be back in Stony Stratford this morning,. However, widespread rail disruption in and out of Milton Keynes and across the Midlands yesterday means two of us spent an extra night in Tamworth last night after two days in Lichfield and Tamworth.
We have been visiting Lichfield Cathedral and the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield, which have been my ‘spiritual home’ since my late teens, and Tamworth, where we visited the Comberford Chapel in Saint Editha’s Church last night, and spent an afternoon in the Moat House on Lichfield Street, once a Comberford family home, as well as catching a quick glimpse of Comberford Hall the day before.
I hope to get back to Stony Stratford later this morning (18 June 2022) in time to speak later today, as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), at the Peace Festival organised by Milton Keynes Peace and Justice Network.
In the Church Calendar, this is Ordinary Time. Before today begins, and before we start tring to neogiate and of today’s potential hazards on the rail network, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.
In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:
1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;
2, reading the psalm or psalms;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
Psalm 115 is the third of the six psalms (Psalms 113-118) comprising the Hallel (הַלֵּל, ‘Praise’). In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this psalm forms the second part of Psalm 113, counted as verses 9-26 of Psalm 113, verses 1-8 being Psalm 114 in Hebrew numbering. In Latin, that part is known as Non nobis.
Psalms 113-118 are among the earliest prayers written to be recited in the Temple on days of national celebration. They were sung as accompaniment to the Pesach or Passover sacrifice. Early rabbinic sources suggest that these psalms were said on the pilgrimage festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.
These psalms are known as the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ because of the references in Psalm 114 to the Exodus from Egypt.
This psalm may have been composed for use in the Second Temple services after the return from Babylon. The opening words of this psalm in Latin, Non Nobis Domine, have been used for inscriptions on buildings.
Psalm 115 is the third of six psalms (113-118) of which Hallel is composed. On all days when Hallel is recited, this psalm is recited in its entirety, except on Rosh Chodesh (except on Chanukah) and the last six days of Passover, when verses 1-11 are omitted.
In verses 1-11, who hear a strong condemnation of idolatrous practices. The former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, says, ‘Worshipping impersonal objects or forces eventually dehumanises a culture and those who are part of it. Whether what is worshipped is an icon, a ruler, a race or a political ideology, the final outcome is the sacrifice of human lives on the altar of high, yet imperfect, ideals.’
He continues, ‘Idolatry is the worship of the part instead of the whole, one aspect of the part instead of the whole, one aspect of the universe in place of the Creator of all who transcends all.’
The NRSV translates verse 16 as: ‘The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.’ However, Lord Sacks suggests the word ‘given’ is better rendered as ‘given over.’
He says the earth was placed in the guardianship of humanity: ‘We do not own the earth; we hold it in trust from God and there are conditions on that trust, namely that we respect the earth’s integrity and the dignity of the human person.’
This verse, among others, motivated peace activist John McConnell to propose Earth Day as a call to preserve the Earth and share resources. Earth Day is an annual event on 22 April. First held on 22 April 1970, the official theme for 2022 was ‘Invest In Our Planet.’
Psalm 115 (NRSVA):
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
2 Why should the nations say,
‘Where is their God?’
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does whatever he pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
they make no sound in their throats.
8 Those who make them are like them;
so are all who trust in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
12 The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,
both small and great.
14 May the Lord give you increase,
both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
16 The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to human beings.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any that go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
Praise the Lord!
The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) has been ‘Focus 9/99,’ which was introduced on Sunday by the Revd M Benjamin Inbaraj, Director of the Church of South India’s SEVA department.
Saturday 18 June 2022:
The USPG Prayer invites us to pray today in these words:
We pray for the pioneering work on child protection and ecological concerns carried out by the Church of South India. May we be inspired by our brothers and sisters there.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org