Sunday, June 05, 2005

Arise, then, Lord!

Psalm 10
Journal enrey dated March 1, 2005

"Arise, then, Lord! Lift up your hand! O God, do not forget the poor!"

This call for God to rise up, to lift up his hand, is a prayer for a decisive victory of justice over injustice, fairness over exploitation, equality over oppression. It is a call for decisive intervention. My initial response is, "Does this ever happen? Does God act to rout the wicked apart from our struggle? Are the wicked ever truly routed?" I am wondering what prayers like this really mean. What would it look like if God were to arise, to lift up his hand? It would look like the overturning of power structures, the upending of pyramids of dominance.

The key word, perhaps, is "then." Not "then" as in "some other time," for the psalmist clearly means "now." "Then" means in view of everything the psalmist has previously recounted: the powerful preying upon the weak and vulnerable. "Arise, then, Lord!" is a cry that expresses the unbearable tension of the present situation, its unacceptability.

The question that the psalm puts to us is whether we see and hear what the psalmist sees and hears: violence, oppression, unbridled consumption of limited resources. Do we experience this unresolved tension, or has it resolved itself for us? When we look at the world, do we say, "Arise, then, Lord!" or do we yawn and say "All is well"? Are we in our own element or out of it, a fish in water or out of it? Is the world an authentic or a deceptive cadence, a suspension awaiting resolution, a dissonance straining towards harmony?

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