Welcome to Security, Surveillance, and the Psalms Bible Study

Welcome to the online component of our Salem Lutheran Bible Study: Hide Me in the Shadow of Your Wings – Security, Surveillance, and the Psalms. For the next 6 weeks on Sunday mornings at 9 at Salem, we’ll be studying this topic together. You’re welcome to come. But if you can’t make it, or would like to continue the conversation beyond Sunday morning, then you’re invited to this ongoing online conversation. This is a new format, so we’ll be trying to find the best way to proceed. (Feel free to make suggestions by marking your comment “To Admin”)

The Psalms have been part of the life of the Church for as long as it has existed (and of course have been around for much longer even than that). Both ancient and exceedingly familiar to us, the language of the Psalms gives voice to almost every kind of human longing and concern. While the Psalms are not laid out like an instruction booklet for a life of faith, they can attune our ears, hearts, and voices to the ways faithful people have prayed to God over the centuries. They can both widen our concerns and give voice to our deepest fears. It is in this context that we will use the Psalms in this study: We will borrow their language to speak about the world in our time, seeing if ancient eyes don’t offer us a new perspective on our own concerns.

Security and surveillance are certainly not new-fangled concerns, but they have surfaced again recently in national discussion, especially with respect to the abilities of governments and corporations to collect vast amounts of electronic data from nearly everyone, with or without their consent. The national debate has centered around terms that are frankly foreign to the Psalms. Information, privacy, and consumer convenience are not notions that the Psalms find salient. But deeper concerns about protection and well-being, deceit and power, exposure and being known are all given expression by the Psalms.

The Psalms also speak from within a world that is already broken, spoiled and hopelessly entangled in sin. The Psalms do not offer idealized solutions for a perfect world, but prayers from this one, in the middle of things. The Psalms often admit to the speaker’s own failings even in the midst of prayers for rescue from forces beyond the speaker’s control. It’s complicated. But in the Psalms, it’s never too late. Things have never gotten so bad that they cannot be set right. Again and again the Psalms acknowledge that it is God who has ultimate charge of the world and its creatures.

To join the conversation, look for the link to the posts on the Salem Lutheran Facebook page.

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Poem for Advent One

First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1, 2013
Lessons: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

The Gospel Truth Security Company
by Kathryn Smith

We begin by seeking morning
in a world of night, then follow up with prayers
for peace within your walls. You don’t think
that’s enough? You want guns to chase
the needy from your threshold? Sorry,
we don’t work that way. This is so top-
of-the-line it’s over the line. Protection
redefined. Our blacksmith shop hammers
your locks into soup spoons. Our smelter
melts the barrels of semiautomatics and molds
the metal into tent poles. One weapon
can house an army, battalions of the homeless,
peacemakers reclaiming even the very
vocabulary of violence. Our guards
never sleep. When a stranger breaches your gate,
alarms raise the dead and the living
alike, chiming like a dinnerbell, kitchen timer shrill.
Those walls we mentioned?
They’re metaphorical. They’re everywhere,
and broken, and the peace you tried to hold
within is leaking through chinks in the stone.
No one knows when the thief is coming,
so we leave the table set all night.