Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bitter Valley, Place of Springs

How lovely is your dwelling place,
LORD God of hosts!

My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

The sparrow herself finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for her brood,
she lays her young by your altars,
LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise. Selah
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

As they go through the Bitter Valley
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rain covers it with blessings.
They walk with ever growing strength;
they will see the God of gods in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield;
look on the face of your anointed.

One day within your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the House of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.

For the LORD God is a rampart, a shield;
The LORD will give us favor and glory.
The LORD will not refuse any good
to those who walk without blame.

LORD, God of hosts,
happy are those who trust in you!
Psalm 84
translated by the Ladies of the Grail

I opened A Prayer Book for Remembering the Women this morning in an effort to find an opening devotional for a conference call. Psalm 84 was offered for Wednesday morning, in this stirring translation, followed by a beautiful litany for the renewal of the church.

I find myself in the bitter valley right about now. I am struggling to discern whether I am still called to congregational ministry. I have been without a church for six months (without pay for four), and I am feeling so many conflicting pulls and desires. I long to be in relationship with a congregation again, but I also am finding myself drawn to other kinds of work-- not ministry at all. I wonder if this is because I am so discouraged that nothing has become available that I want to forestall "failure" by not even hoping any more.

Last night I received an email from a colleague who passed along to me an invitation from the tiny church where I preached last Sunday to become their Temporary Supply pastor, 1/4 time. I am considering it (prayerfully, as they say). My BFF says "Of course, as soon as you take it, something huge will come along!" But that's not a reason to take it.

It is a lovely little church (really little, doll-sized, practically!). Old fashioned, New England protestant style, white clapboard with a steeple. Just the kind of church I love. Maybe it is my place of springs.


steve westby said...

Just wanted to send along prayers and best wishes as you seek to discern the next step in your life. From what I can tell about you from your writings, you seem to have a great deal of patience, kindness, intelligence and wisdom to offer people in whatever route you choose.

Magdalene6127 said...

Thanks Steve, I really appreciate that.