Tag Archives: Psalms

Between the Lines- Proper 19, September 15, 2013

Text: Psalm 51:1-10

according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions

writing in the sand

written in sand (Wikimedia Commons)

Find some sand, or loose dirt in which you can “write” down your transgressions—the ways you may have violated a rule, a command, or a duty, or crossed a boundary or exceeded a limit in relation to God, to others, to yourself. When you have written them, sit with them for a while, and then erase them, blot them out.

How does it feel to consider your transgressions? How are they always a part of you? What is it like to have them blotted out? Can you leave them behind and start over anew?

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weely resource for engagning the Bible in a new way, published by the Educational Center

Between the Lines: Proper 9- July 7, 2013

Text: Psalm 30:1-12

Sprig growing from a tree stump

Sprig growing from a tree stump
(Photo credit: allyhook)

O Lord, you brought up my soul from She’ol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

The text is a song of praise and thanksgiving for being delivered from “the pit,” initially a personal trial, later the communal difficulties surrounding the exile – a collective sigh of relief.

This is a literal “thank God!” after a close call.  I am reminded in it (as I too frequently am) of Carl Jung’s remark, made in a letter to “M. Leonard” in December of 1959:

“To this day ‘God’ is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans, and intentions, and change the course of my life for better or for worse.”

This psalm thanks god for a change for the better, (after a considerable time in the worse camp), for a hoped-for return from exile.  But the question Jung opens up for me is that of how God operates in “the pit” of our lives as well, in the exiles, in the awfulness of things.  Can we thank God for that as well?  Could you take a deep breath and sit down and write a psalm or a song of gratitude for the darkest of your days and nights?

– Beth Harrison


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see  About BibleWorkbench.


Between the Lines: Easter 7: May 12, 2013

Text: Psalm 97

Darkness Over Eden 2709

Darkness Over Eden 2709 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are
the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him,
and consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.

We often emphasize light in our descriptions of God, in hymns, prayers, and liturgy. Yet the opening images of the psalm invite us to imagine both darkness and light: clouds and thick darkness, fire and lightnings.

A contemporary hymn by Brian Wren begins:

Joyful is the dark, holy, hidden God,
Rolling cloud of night beyond all naming:
Majesty in darkness, Energy of love,
Word-in-Flesh, the mystery proclaiming.

What dimensions of the image of God might these pictures of darkness be inviting us to see? What do you know of the clouds and thick darkness that you would associate with the experience of God? Take some art materials and draw clouds and thick darkness. Sit with your image and discover what it has to say to you.

– Andy Kille (editor@educationalcenter.org)


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=138#gospel_oth_reading

Between the Lines: Trinity Sunday: June 3, 2012

Text: Psalm 29

Lebanon Cedar

Lebanon Cedar
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

Where in your own life right now is your forest stripped bare?  What, in your religious or political or family life breaks the cedars or flashes forth flames of fire?  What do you know of the shaking of the wilderness?  Take a piece of paper and some art supplies and quickly give some form to the breaking of cedars and the shaking of the wilderness?  Sit with the chaos for a moment in silence. Continue reading

Between the Lines: Easter 7: May 20, 2012

Text: Psalm 1

Psalm 1, Verse 1 and 2 in Biblia Hebraica Stut...

Psalm 1, Verse 1 and 2
in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.

Many years ago, the teacher of my sixth-grade Sunday School class made a bargain with her young charges. If we would memorize Psalm 1 and recite it in front of the class, she would give us a special prize- a bookmark, as I recall. We worked hard at the unfamiliar words—the King James Version with its “walkeths” and “standeths” and “sitteths” was the standard of the day. The introduction to this Sunday’s session notes that this Psalm was likely composed as an introduction to the entire book of Psalms. For me, and the other students this teacher had over many years, it served also as a kind of introduction to Christian faith itself. Imagine that you did not know anything about Christianity (or Judaism) and were given this psalm as a summary of the tradition. What does it affirm? What does it assume? What questions might come up for you as you hear it?

– Andy Kille


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. BibleWorkbench includes a series of open-ended questions focused on a reading in the Common Lectionary aimed at drawing readers into the story and making connections with the world around them and the world within. Also included are “Between the Lines” reflections, Parallel Readings from literature, poetry, and the news, and Critical Background on the text and its setting. For details and subscription information, go to www.educationalcenter.org.

Between the Lines: Easter 4, May 15, 2011

Text: Psalm 23

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

I am struck by the image of the prepared table.  Last week (in the story of the road to Emmaus) it was at the table in the breaking and blessing of the bread that their eyes were opened to a new way of being in the world.  Here, the table is prepared before me, in the presence of my enemies. Continue reading

BWB: Epiphany 8: February 27, 2011

Text: Psalm 131

The “Songs of Ascent” in the Psalms are thought to have been song sung by pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem (since Jerusalem and the Temple were built on top of a hill, one always went “up” to the Temple). These Psalms (120-134) frequently mention Jerusalem or the Temple, and are short, perhaps easily memorized by pilgrims.

What do you know of singing a song that captured a moment, or lifted your expectations, or reminded you of past joys? Perhaps a carol, or a solemn processional hymn, or something you heard on the radio that touched you deeply and goes with you on your way?

How does a song work on you to change your mood, to raise your anticipation, to help you bond with others on the same journey? What song echoes in your heart and mind today?

– Andy Kille