Part of my regular prayer practice is to give time to journal on specific verses or passages of Scripture that catch my attention during personal devotions. What has been surprising is that a majority of these have been in the Psalms, which I try and read in their daily segments according to the Book of Common Prayer. I notice too that this trend began somewhere near the start of the lockdown phase of the pandemic and has continued to the present. The Psalms call us to every kind of human emotion – to praise and thanksgiving; fear and distress; faith and hope; lament and contrition; and triumphant boasting and cries for revenge. 

A common refrain of the Psalmist is “How long, O Lord?” How long will the wicked prosper as though God doesn’t see them? How long will enemies trample over us? What about your reputation, O God, as One who saves? If I die, how can I praise you from there? 

It seems silly to be asking God about preserving the divine reputation! And it is presumptuous to think God needs to let us in on all God’s ways. Yet, it is as though we cannot help ourselves. We have grown incredibly confident in our progress in growing civilization, and now we have the world at our fingertips, quite literally, which only reaffirms our sense of self confidence. Until, of course, we are not. Until we are forced to ask, “what on earth is going on?”

Some how we cannot get out of our own way in this effort to progress. If you have not watched the movie “Don’t look up!”, I would say maybe this is not the time to watch it!! While the climate fires up, we still get forced to engage in the pettiness of international conflict. As our global connectedness creates the potential of an ever changing pandemic, we argue over vaccinations, mitigation procedures and corporate influence.

None of these alarming questions are new. You can read similar concerns from almost every ancient civilization. We have always been asking what on earth is going on. And that brings me back to the Psalmists in their generation.

In the end, they trusted in God, and not only that they put God first. They turned to God; and waited upon God. And God answered, though not always in the way they expected. 

Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing the voices of the prophets in our Sunday or weekly readings. We will also be hearing about the expectations of discipleship or following Jesus as expressed in the Gospel of Luke. The prophets, by the way, are part of God’s answering our fateful wonderings, for we are told that the prophets are how God reveals God’s self. 

I am going to assume that you are feeling the urgency, confusion and perhaps even the anxiety of these days. Let me tell you – the answer is not on Google; but is much more likely in the places God reveals truth. Let us sit among the prophets and be where the Gospel is being proclaimed. That is where we will discover “What on earth is going on?”  

+ Bishop Alan