Tag Archives: still point

Kingfisher_4.preview

Still Point ~ Where to Go When the World Collapses

Last Sunday, I preached a brief sermon on Psalm 23.  Brief, because to say too much was to risk detracting from the self-evident beauty of that favored psalm.  This Sunday we will return to the psalms, focused this time on the lectionary reading for the day, Psalm 130.  It too is a favored psalm in and throughout Christian history.  It is one of seven “penitential psalms” that include psalms  6, 32, 38, 51, 102,  and 143. As lent rapidly moves toward Holy Week and Easter, one would be well-served to read these psalms as a way of entrance into the Light of Easter.

T. S. Eliot turns a phrase about light and contemplation in his poem, Four Quarters.  In Burnt Norton: IV he wrote:

…After the kingfisher’s wing                                                                                       Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still                              At the still point of the turning world…

When all around us the world seems unmoored, rising and falling and crashing upon wave after wave and our little boat of a life seems in peril, where do we go? how do we find respite and shelter? Where to go when the world collapses?  The 130th psalm is entitled, De Profundis, after its initial phrase, “Out of the depths.”  Out of the depths, I cry to Thee, O Lord…  Here is an entrance to the still point, where light has answered to light and the light is still. We arrive or at least, we can arrive at the still point of the turning world.

Each Sunday in a middle school auditorium at 10 a.m., we make our way to that still point.  I urge you to step into that hour of light answering light.  Walk, swim, paddle your way to that hour. Cling to a scrap of the shattered vessel if you must; navigate the perils of a twittered and maniacal rhetoric; but position yourself,  body and soul, into this light and stay a while.  ~See you Sunday

retro-radio-with-round-dial-matthew-bamberg

Dial into Silence

Perhaps you are old enough to remember or have simply seen an old radio with a tuning dial.  With deft fingers and patience, one could turn the dial slowly to eventually land on a radio station. With fine-tuning and precision, the noise and static would give way to a clear–if faint–station.

And this is analogous to prayer.  Now I grew up in a noisy church.  The electric organ would vine leaves of notes around prayers. The choir sang. The church, which is to say, the congregants, would exhort with “amen” like a boy throwing a firecracker on the pavement on the Fourth of July.  And the preacher would proclaim for well over thirty minutes and very often forty-five minutes, a sermon that now seems to me in hindsight to have been more stream-of-consciousness than a crafted commentary upon holy writ.  Church was noisy. Silence was not even a word in our theological vocabulary.

We live in a very noisy world. I am sure you have noticed this, especially during these weeks of political conventions that provide a stage for our culture’s anxiety.  The rhetoric, protests, speeches and and speeches and speeches, pelt us with words.  It is little wonder that we feel confused, agitated or simply worn out after listening to even a little bit of all this.  What to do?

Prayer and worship offer us a still point of silence.  You can listen to my sermon, Still Point,  from this past Sunday to ferret out the deeper meanings here. This week, I urge you to patiently tune the dial of your inner life until you find that still point of quiet where you are met by “the peace that passes all understanding.”  Turn off the news for a while.  Barricade yourself against the noise.  Dial into the center where, to borrow from Eliot,

the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

~See you Sunday  where silence and peace meet praise