Psalm 29 (NRSV)
Verse 1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Verse 2Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
Verse 3The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
Verse 4The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Verse 5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
Verse 6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
Verse 7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
Verse 8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
Verse 9The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"
Verse 10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
Verse 11May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
The brother of one of my students is currently facing a hard battle with a rare cancer. As we talked together about faith in the midst of this, my student expressed difficulty with the "suffocating" ways we sometimes talk about the encompassing and enveloping love of God. In the face of the painful reality their family is living, my student is increasingly drawn to the raw and unfathomable mystery of God. Not because this awe-filled, awe-inspiring God has answers or explanations for their brother's suffering, but because in the face of this cancer's senselessness, it is the magnum mysterium, the Great Mystery, that anchors their being more deeply in these difficult days than hollow-ringing, God-domesticating words of comfort.
Psalm 29 reminds us that the voice of God — from the cry of the child in the manger to the preaching of the wandering rabbi — encompasses the voice of the thunderhead, the voice of the whirlwind. By it we are humbled, but we are not without hope.
God of boundless mystery, humble us by your glory, anchor us in the depths of your being, and give us hope in the promise of your peace. Amen.