I am blessed to be mentoring a Chinese student from my alma mater who stays in touch with me, even though she has graduated and has returned to Beijing. We are working hard right now to get her into grad school. She is diligently filling out applications and submitting transcripts: I am writing letters of reference and praying hard. She has been pretty isolated in her apartment for weeks now since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and it is something we talk about as we check in with each other from halfway across the world.
I have mentioned before that I have a kind of ambivalence toward the Lectionary. In over twenty years of ministry, I have never been in a church that used it every single Sunday. But I do love how it takes you to scriptures you might overlook if you are “picking and choosing” rather than allowing scripture to choose you instead.
Just as I finished a conversation with my mentee this morning, this scripture assignment popped up. This Psalm definitely chose us today!
So take a look at today’s lectionary selection, and read it with the news of the coronavirus (or anything else that is troubling you) in mind:
Psalm 121 (New King James Version)
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
The Psalmist is traveling across dangerous roads on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The way is full of rocks, extreme desert temperatures, bandits, and wildlife. But he remembers where his help comes from, and so he lifts his eyes to the hills. The sun won’t hurt him as he travels by day. The moon won’t reveal his position as he rests at night. His foot won’t be moved by the rocky terrain and steep slopes. His help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Do you feel like you are traveling a dangerous road? Is your path littered with all kinds of things that might cause you to stumble and fall? Remember, this is the same Lord speaking today, who hears YOUR cry for help.
I know you’re scared. I know you’re taking appropriate precautions. I know you are praying. As you do these things, remember that the Lord is your keeper. He preserves your going out and your coming in, for now, and forevermore.
Lift up your eyes to the hills. Your help comes! So keep calm, and carry on….and wash your hands like you just cut up jalapeños and you have to take your contacts out!