Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Psalm 99

Pentecost +23 – Year A

Psalm 99

The following paraphrase raises several interesting translational/perspective questions that can lead to good conversation.

- Is G*D's greatness a one-way street from G*D to humans/creation? What is the role of interdependence when dealing with issues of holiness?

- What is the relationship between honoring another and groveling before them?

- How warranted is the reference to "humus" in lines 5 and 6? Can we take this back to Creation or is it simply a matter of the line of Abraham's faithful?

- In verse 8, are "wrongdoings" by the Israelites to be punished while also being forgiven or is the reference to "wrongdoings" about those of others?

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Psalm 99 - paraphrased by Jim Taylor

Though we have climbed earth's highest mountains, the peaks remain as
inhospitable to our life as outer space. Ancient peoples saw these fearful
heights as the habitation of the gods.

1           Like a halo of holiness, the spirit of God envelops the earth.
In the stillness of space, God's spirit gives life; let us acknowledge our
In the emptiness of infinity, God's spirit creates life; let us acknowledge
our interdependence.
2           Look up if you would see God;
raise your sights beyond your repetitive routines.
3           But do not attempt to face God as an equal--
Fling yourself face down on the earth
Before the creator of the heavens.
4           Almighty God, you love to do right.
In your dealings with your creation, you are always fair.
5           We humans grovel before your greatness.
Humbly, we kiss the humus from which you fashioned us.
You are holiness itself.
6           The humus holds the recycled cells of those who came this way
before us;
Step by step they searched for you, until you found them.
7           By the pillar of fire and the whispering breeze,
by bonfire and whirlwind, by prophecy and parable, you showed them your way.

8           Because they tried to follow you, you forgave them their
But those who laid traps for them, you did not tolerate.
9           So pledge allegiance to our God!
Gather at the foot of the mountain, where even the rocks reach up towards
our God.
Our God is holiness itself.

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From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Books.
For details, go to

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