Pentecost 119

Pentecost 119
My Psalm 119

Holiest of Living

Today is October 3, 2004. For those Christians following along with me in reading one psalm (and perhaps writing a modern, personal version of your own for each psalm) today is dedicated to Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is the longest of all of psalms and is complex in its structure. It also represents the longest chapter in the Holy Bible. An acrostic psalm, its one hundred and seventy-six lines are arranged in eight stanzas of twenty-two lines each. Each line, with the exception of two, uses one of eight synonyms for what the teachings of God or in the Hebrew faith, the Torah.. They are law, decrees, precepts, statutes, commandments, ordinances, word, and promise. Normally such usage would be reflected in a nursery rhyme style of writing. Psalm 119, however, is beautiful poetry and covers a wide range of topics while illustrating the writer’s search for the importance and significance of God’s word in one’s life. It is not without controversy, nonetheless. Critics suggest that perhaps the format stresses things that actual teachings do not. As with most tenets of faith, it is the personal interpretation and living that give the psalm meaning. The significance of this psalm is based upon the tension within it.

What is quite clear is that these teachings should have a role in one’s life. There can be no complacency or indecision. Either one believes or one does not. Faith is not about self-satisfaction. Faith is about believing and then doing. No other psalm covers as many aspects of living, asks as many questions about incorporating belief into the living, nor emphasizes the holy aspect of living like this psalm does. My rendition of a personal psalm today will be lyrics that illustrate what I believe the intention of all the teachings to be. But today is holy for other reasons.

October 3, 2014 is the Feast of the Sacrifice for Muslim believers. Eid al-Adha, as it is known in English, commemorates a great faith, the faith of Abraham/Ibrahim. Abraham/Ibrihim was the Old Testament believer who was without children. He lamented this lack of legacy and was promised by God to bear a son. Encouraged by his wife Sarah/Sarai to bed her servant Hagar, his first son was born and named Ishmael. Later Sarah/Sarai, wife of Abraham became pregnant herself and that son was named Isaac.

Eid al-Adha celebrates the faith of Abraham/Ibrahim. He trusted his God/Allah so much that he was willing to risk following orders to sacrifice his son. Islam teaches that the son prepared for sacrifice was Ishmael. Christianity teaches the son was Isaac. The faith is still the same and the commitment to the believing just as great whether the son was Hagar’s or Sarah/Sarai’s.

Abraham/Ibrahim takes Hagar and Ishmael later to Mecca which at that time was barren and fairly uninhabitable. Abraham/Ibrahim continues on to Canaan but Hagar and Ishmael continue to live where they were taken, water having sprung from the earth at the feet of Ishmael making Mecca not just habitable but a place of miracle and beauty. Today, Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca to celebrate this holy day.

Celebrating Eid involves the Eid prayers; the sacrifice of animals in which one-third is donated to friends and neighbors as well as one-third donated to the poor and needy; the wearing of new clothes; gift-giving. The Quran requires regular charitable practices and this si seen on this day as no one goes hungry. The symbolism of the animal sacrifice also refers back to the story of Abraham/Ibrahim as a lamb is provided to take the place of the son to be sacrificed.

October 3, 2014 is also Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. It is the day on which Jews believe the fate of each person is sealed for the upcoming year. They observe this by fasting, engaging in prayer, abstaining from physical pleasures and by refraining from their normal work. For twenty-five hours, those in the Jewish faith will celebrate this as their holiest of days, a period of atonement and repentance. The giving to charities is also a part of this observance.

October 3, 2014 will be a Friday and usually, Friday bespeaks of weekend fun, not religious dedication. Whether you observe Eid al-Adha or Yom Kippur or read Psalm 119, you are called to live your beliefs and to do so in charity with one another. Peace, within the soul and in one’s world, is the common denominator that October 3, 2014 for all. I hope it will be a day of peace for you.

My Psalm 119
[Jill Jackson / Mark Miller – circa 1955]

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

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