"I have told the glad news . . . in the great congregation."
Much of what we do at the Garden Church during worship and at other times goes by the name "sharing."
Understood in a deep way, sharing is an intimate relationship and requires mutual trust. It requires that we feel safe in sharing the truth of our own experience. And conversely, it requires that we be open to hearing the truth of another's experience.
This Sunday I will be spending some time with Psalms 39 and 40. Between them, these two Psalms dramatize the shift from hiding the truths of one's experience to proclaiming them.
Psalm 39 opens:
I said, “I will guard my ways
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will keep a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence.”
I was silent and still;
I held my peace to no avail;
my distress grew worse,
my heart became hot within me.
While I mused, the fire burned. . .
It continues with an acknowledgement of the fleetingness of life.
You have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight.
Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.
Surely everyone goes about like a shadow.
While we are hiding our true selves, our lives are passing us by. But in Psalm 40 the pain of keeping silent gives way to the joy of speaking out.
The Lord put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
Any moment, I would suggest, that we find the courage to proclaim the truth of our own experience is a moment in which we proclaim in the great congregation the glad news of the Lord's deliverance, both for ourselves and for others.
May the Garden Church always be a safe place to speak and hear the truths of our experiences.