Friday, June 2, 2017

leviathan


The message is in the art, both visual and poetic.


Psalm 104:25-35, 37 Benedic, anima mea

25 O Lord, how manifold are your works! 
in wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
26 Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number, 
creatures both small and great.
27 There move the ships,
and there is that Leviathan, 
which you have made for the sport of it.
28 All of them look to you 
to give them their food in due season.
29 You give it to them; they gather it; 
you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
30 You hide your face, and they are terrified; 
you take away their breath,
and they die and return to their dust.
31 You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; 
and so you renew the face of the earth.
32 May the glory of the Lord endure for ever; 
may the Lord rejoice in all his works.
33 He looks at the earth and it trembles; 
he touches the mountains and they smoke.
34 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; 
I will praise my God while I have my being.
35 May these words of mine please him; 
I will rejoice in the Lord.
37 Bless the Lord, O my soul. 
Hallelujah!

This portion of Psalm 104, which looks like a hymn praising God for creation, is our responsive psalm for Sunday, the Day of Pentecost. In Christian tradition, fifty days after Easter we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the church. In Hebrew tradition this would be Shavuot, fifty days after Passover, Jews commemorating God’s giving the Law to Moses. In the New Testament age, koine Greek was the common language of the empire, and Greek-speaking Jews called this holiday Pentecost, which simply means fifty days. So, there’s another tie between Christianity and our Jewish heritage.


The whole psalm is marvelous, I could wish we didn’t feel so compressed by time considerations about beating the Baptists to Morrison’s Cafeteria after church that we read snippets, bits and pieces of the Bible instead of complete stories. But then, I do remember at college, my first two years I went to First Presbyterian, Gainesville and the guys I was with hurried out so the Baptists didn’t get to Tower House restaurant before us. My second two years, with different friends, I went to First Baptist, Gainesville, and we invariably left three minutes early so as to beat the Presbyterians to Tower House. 


What was so special about Tower House, down on the town square? For starters, the blue cheese dressing on ice-cold crispy, fresh tossed salad, and for dessert, the black and gold pie: you didn’t want to have to wait in line outside, because they were not unlikely to run out before you got seated. The Tower House closed in 1965 and was torn down to make room for City Hall expansion. No prob for me, there 1953 to 1957, I was long gone. I do remember taking Linda and her mother there for Sunday dinner one Sunday my senior year.

But ah, the psalm, our portion of Psalm 104, what do I especially like? I love the line about the great whale or huge crocodile, whatever the sea monster might be, “there’s that leviathan, which you made for the sport of it,” and surely there can have been no other reason for those terrible creatures than godly sport. In my olden days, sometimes there were splendiferous displays on Harrison Avenue, laid out on long flatbed trailers, about in front of Walgreens at Harrison & 5th Street. After the War one of Hitler’s enormous Mercedes-Benz parade cars was on display for maybe a week. Another time there was a huge, complete whale, gigantic, seems to me it may have been a baleen whale: breathtakingly along in decomposition, bring your handkerchief and maybe a barf bag. There is that leviathan. 

But I reckon the reason for the psalm on Pentecost is the verse, You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; and so you renew the face of the earth. 


So then, who or what is God?
God is whoever or whatever God says God is, in and as God’s Word.

And who or what is the Holy Spirit?
Without burying myself in the heresy of modalism, I’ll resort to my theology professor’s definition, the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son. I’ve never been certain about visualizing a Person in that, but then I’m certain of nothing, so okay. 



DThos+

art: various, pinched online

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