at All Saints, King City, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, Sunday, July 4, 2021,
the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost.
for this Sunday, Proper 14, Yr B: 2 Sam
5.1-5, 9-10; Ps 123; 2 Cor 12.2-10; Mk 6.1-13.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have
had more than enough of contempt. Psalm
Sunday being so close to Canada Day, I wanted to offer some comments on our
readings that also reflect what seems to be our national mood on a holiday that
hasn’t quite felt like a holiday. There
was the usual fusillade of fireworks on Thursday night, but elsewhere, and you
could really see this on social media, many people were ambivalent about Canada
has changed since the discovery of the first unmarked children’s graves in
Kamloops, with more being discovered almost daily. People feel thoughtful, mournful,
penitent. Others are angry enough to
burn churches and topple statues.
Perhaps reconciliation needed to bring us to this place, a place from which
we can’t go back to the old Canada that we were taught about in our
childhoods. Something new needs to come,
some new and better sense of ourselves.
123 feels like a blessing and an encouragement spoken to us at this strange and
sad juncture. It begins by connecting us
to God, our eyes turned up like those searching for help and rescue. God is depicted as our biblical ancestors
understood God, powerful and lofty, and yet God hears and responds lovingly and
kindly: “our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us” (v. 2).
merciful character of God needs to be understood clearly here, lest we be
distracted by the imagery of master and servant. A certain deconstructive way of reading this
psalm would discard the entire thing because of the power differential baked
into it, and yet two things need to be said about this imagery.
casting us into the role of servants of God is totally in accord with the
Jewish and Christian tradition. God is
mighty, God is creator, God is redeemer.
We are none of those things, and we are needful of them. Second, the servants look to God’s hand, not
in fear of punishment, but in hope of help.
God’s hand in the psalm is a helping hand.
heart of the psalm, which speaks to us most clearly now, comes in the third
verse: “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have
had more than enough of contempt.” With
thousands of children in unmarked graves waiting to be discovered, and with
generations ravaged because we tried to “kill the Indian in the child”, what
can we as a country say to God but “Lord have mercy”? What better prayer can we say for our beloved
country of Canada than “Lord have mercy”?
enough of contempt”. Indeed we
have. The psalms often call for the
punishment of those who hold the God of Israel in contempt, but here the
punishment should be ours. The
residential schools were built on contempt, scorn, and pride. My generation inherited a legacy of contempt
for indigenous Canadians. Indian jokes
were common in my school years. “Lord
this psalm. Psalm 123 is one of the
“Psalms of Ascents”, so called because they are thought to be songs of the
exiles who returned from Babylon to rebuild a ruined Jerusalem. As such the psalms are aspirational, a hope
that God would help a lost people build something better and lasting.
Let’s pray and act for a better
Canada, with our hands reaching out to God’s hand and to the hands of our indigenous
brothers and sisters, “for we have had more than enough of contempt”.