Psalm 121: A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will 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 will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
The month of January is purported to be named after Janus, the Roman God of transitions. Busts like the one pictured above were placed in city gates and doorways to indicate that this God would surely keep safe the resident’s “going out and coming in.” Therefore, the God was two-faced.
We have a different definition of two-faced. Far from being the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, and passages–the one who looks to the future and to the past in order to provide safe-keeping, this two-faced god would be one of duality and hypocrisy–a passive-aggressive god–one who does not “say what he means, and means what he says” (cf. Our Covenant for Working Together), but rather says whatever seems expedient at the time.
Pundits have conjectured that we now live in a “post-truth” era. Although passive-aggressive behavior has always marked political life, it has never seemed to be so prevalent as it is today. Today bare-faced lies are repeated and repeated as if this will make them the truth, even though the facts say otherwise.
As Christians, who believe that our God “neither slumbers or sleeps” and is the one who keeps us “from all evil” and …keeps our very life (cf. Psalm 121), our truth is in the all-seeing, all-knowing, always present: Im-manu-el, most literally the “Being with Us God.”
Our God is not two-faced. Our God keeps our “going out” and “coming in” from this time forward and forever–but not by simply standing guard at our doorways. Our God is with us wherever we go, whatever we are doing, and with whomever we are with. Our God is not a God of stone or granite, but became flesh and blood and lived among us, knowing all the joys and sorrows of human life and not flinching from the truth. Our God, manifest in Jesus the Christ, is the model we need to follow into this new year of 2018. Follow not just with lip-service, but with our actions.
Here at the United Church of Bellows Falls, in this continued time of transition, we need to embrace Psalm 121 in the fullness of its rich and beautiful meaning. We need to examine our own work together here always keeping in mind the ninth section of “Our Covenant for Working Together,” “We will always ask ourselves ‘is this what God would want us to do?’”
Blessings on this New Year– Pastor Alison