A note from the Reverend Canon Caleb J. Lee, President of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of South Carolina: Today we hear from our seminarian, Christian Basel. Christian is finishing up his middler year at Virginia Theological Seminary. Before attending VTS, Christian worked at Grace Church Cathedral as youth minister and part of the communications team. We are grateful to hear from him today.
By Christian Basel
Psalms is more than just a beautiful book of biblical poetry. They are sung. They are full of praise and lament, thanksgiving, and petition. But at their heart, the psalms are all prayers.
Being at Seminary in Virginia has been a wild experience during this time of pandemic. While I am away from my community in South Carolina, my community here has been scattered. Everything has moved online, the campus is eerily quiet, and meals are almost always solitary. But within that disorientation there is plenty of hope for the fall and new sense of “virtual” community. I’m sure that many of you have had similar experiences in your own ways.
The Psalms have offered a wonderful way to put words to all of those prayers that I, and maybe you, don’t have words ready for just yet. One that has been particularly moving to me has been Psalm 130 because it is all about waiting, and listening, and hope. It is used several times in the lectionary and notably appears as a suggested reading for the Holy Saturday liturgy in that period of waiting before the resurrection.
The opening line is profound: “Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.” But what is unique, and unlike other Psalms, is that there is no cry for deliverance. Although God’s ability to save and redeem is recognized, the psalmist makes no petition to change anything. Instead, the psalmist only asks that God hear their voice—“Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!”—and waits in hope for the Lord. And we are reminded that hope is something that goes beyond what we think is the end. Hope looks forward. The psalmist waits in this hope “more than those who watch for the morning.” They wait longer than is required and hope for more than what is known to come next.
Just as for the psalmist, this is a long period of waiting. When it comes down to it, no one likes to wait. No one has ever enjoyed long lines, or traffic, or being put on hold on the phone, because we don’t know when it’s going to be over. Waiting is ultimately out of our control, and sometimes it is inevitable. Everything beyond this waiting in quarantine may seem unknown and uncertain, even as we begin to peer over the end of our quarantine and think about what new-normal we come to next. The psalmist reminds us that we are not really waiting for the end of a situation we do not have control over, we’re encouraged not to misplace our hope. Instead, we’re waiting for the Lord, because that is where our real hope lies. As we move over that horizon of quarantine into a future we do not know, our hopes in the Lord are met with a steadfast love. It is a love that hears the voice of our prayers.
No depth or period of waiting can prevent our voice from reaching God. And as my prayers change day-to-day with changing news and changing plans, this psalm reminds me that my prayers are heard and centered on a hope that does not change, on a love that is unwavering. There is peace in that. May God be attentive to each of our voices, may we wait with hope, and may our hope in the Lord carry us through today, tomorrow, and always.
During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.