Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Always on the Move

Psalm 84 is a pilgrim's psalm. I've divided the psalm up so that the verses most applicable to a pilgrimage will come later. But today there's a different kind of pilgrimage to look at, and I don't see it very clearly in the NRSV. So I'm posting it as the Geneva Bible translated it, which is closer to the Hebrew:
O Lord of hosts, how amiable are thy tabernacles? My soul longeth, yea, and fainted for the courts of the Lord: for my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.  
Ps 84:1-2 (Geneva Bible)
The NRSV uses "dwelling place" (singular) for מִשְׁכְּנוֹתֶ, which is the plural form of a word used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the tabernacle, or tent of meeting—the sanctuary used by Israel up until after the death of King David. And so here at the beginning of this pilgrim's psalm, we are reminded that God was perceived by our ancestors in the faith as a tent-dweller.

Too often, I long for a stationary faith. I want to be ensconced in my belief system and comfortable where I am. And yet the Bible portrays a God who is always on the move. The earthly tent wherein the faithful met God in the Hebrew scriptures was set up wherever Israel was encamped. In the New Testament, the earthly tent had a different Name: Jesus, who was born in a stable, whose parents took him as a refugee from government violence to Egypt, who as an adult had nowhere to lay his head. May I never forget that movement on my part is a requirement—no less in what I believe than in what my body does. For only the perfect have a perfect faith or a complete understanding of what the scriptures are saying to us, and even they (if they even exist) need to reach beyond the walls in which they dwell or the borders drawn around them.
   
Move me, Lord. I do not demand that my church provide me with "moving" worship services, but that, in service to you, I myself am moved by your Spirit. As your people were guided by your movement through the wilderness, and as your Son moved from place to place to share your wholeness, so may I shun a stationary religion, but embrace a pilgrim faith; in the Name of the One who taught me to pray...