Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Psalm 85

Pentecost +9 - Year C

Psalm 85

In Hosea we hear of G*D running out of mercy.
Here we hear of G*D's anger to generations.

Look around. There is good warrant for those perspectives.

Look around again. What is an antidote to a lack of mercy and an abundance of anger? The Psalmist suggests it is steadfastness. The generalized particular is a steadfastness of love. I suspect that any steadfastness might do and that we might need to model this for G*D.

Here is an extended quote from Wikipedia that synopsizes the conclusion of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony Number 3 - Kaddish that pushes in the direction of Nikos Kazantzakis' Savior's of God and the role children have in waking sleeping parents.

III : Scherzo - Kaddish 3 - Finale. Fugue-Tutti

The scherzo is a fast-tempo dream sequence. God has fallen asleep and the narrator paints a dream. God is no longer in control and the narrator has full power to bring God on this journey through his own imagination. The speaker begins by painting what God has made:

This is Your Kingdom of Heaven, Father,
Just as You planned it.
Every immortal cliché intact.
Lambs frisk. Wheat ripples.
Sunbeams dance. Something is wrong.
The light: flat. The air: sterile.
Do You know what is wrong?
There is nothing to dream.
Nowhere to go. Nothing to know.


The narrator then proceeds to show God that he is in control of this dream.

Now behold my Kingdom of Earth!
Real-life marvels! Genuine wonders!
Dazzling miracles! ...
Look, a Burning Bush
Look, a Fiery Wheel!
A Ram! A Rock! Shall I smite it? There!
It gushes! It gushes! And I did it!
I am creating this dream!
Now will You believe?


A burning bush and gushing rock refer to some of the miracles described in the Old Testament. The narrator next places a rainbow in the sky, in parallel to the story of Noah, when God placed a rainbow in the sky to institute a new covenant with man. In loud triumph and anger, the speaker declares:

Look at it, Father: Believe! Believe!
Look at my rainbow and say after me:
MAGNIFIED ... AND SANCTIFIED ...
BE THE GREAT NAME OF MAN!


After showing God the problems in the world, he helps God believe in the new arrangement. The music builds to an amazing climax, crowned with the entrance of a boy's choir singing the phrase "Magnified and sanctified be His great name, Amen" in Hebrew.

The pace of the music slows down, as the narrator has finished his dream. He wakes God and God then confronts the reality of the image. The narrator, satisfied that God has seen His errors, beams:

Good morning, Father. We can still be immortal,
You and I, bound by our rainbow.
That is our covenant, and to honor it
Is our honor ... not quite the covenant
We bargained for, so long ago.


The narration ends with a commitment from both sides, God and Human, to "Suffer and recreate each other."

Though there is a resolution to the struggle, the music does not end triumphant and grand. Instead, it ends in a final kaddish by the choir and the final chord is dissonant, suggesting that all is still not right and more work must be done.

= = = = = = =

Steadfast love is not easy work. G*D tires of it and retracts mercy and indulges in anger. Yet, it is our birthright and the image of our creation. Great imagination and deep community is needed for those times when steadfast love falters. May steadfast love be shown you when yours stumbles. May your steadfast love support another in their time of drought. As Red Green has been heard to say, "Remember, I'm pulling for ya. We're all in this together!"
 

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