By Garrett Vickrey
Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
The cord is coming out of the ground. Or, maybe it was never really in the ground.
I had to call AT&T this week to get them to come bury our internet line. The soil is too rocky for it to stay buried. They could never get the cord deep enough, so it keeps coming back up to the surface. Didn’t Jesus have a parable about this? Now the orange cord is sticking out of our back yard as if the ground is setting a trap for a child or dog to catch them and pull them under to its rocky innards.
The cords and wires beneath us right now connect the world in ways we once never thought would be possible. Only sometimes they don’t. And those times are extremely frustrating.
Is there anything more frustrating in the 21st Century than connectivity issues? Our internet went out in the church office recently. We might as well have shut the place down. There is so little “office work” these days that can be accomplished without our precious wifi. We need this connection to sustain our work and to sustain our connection to others. When our connection fails our productivity fails with it, and we might even find ourselves wondering what to do with this “lost” time.
Except that the times when the power goes out are memorable times. No T.V. No internet to distract us from the people in the room. No speakers to play music to cover up the quiet. There’s something sacred about the way a few candles can light up a dark house. There’s something surprising when your eyes adjust to the dim light. Almost as if our eyes have a way of storing up the light we need to make it through moments of darkness in our lives.
If you had to pick one passage from scripture to read when the lights go out, Psalm 118 would be a good choice. It has a plethora of recognizable lines bookended by the phrase: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his chesed endures forever.” Chesed is a Hebrew often translated as steadfast love. One scholar offered a translation that he thinks better suits what the Hebrew word was getting at: “unbreakable connection”.
Beneath the cords and wires and infrastructure that wires this world together is the one who sculpted it in the beginning. The one who separated the waters; who put those sacred hands into clay and brought us out. Deep within creation there is an unbreakable connection between us and God.
There’s no distinction between spirit and breath in Hebrew; there’s one word for both. Maybe we can learn something from that. The spirit God breathed into Adam in the beginning is the same breath we breathe now. Which makes every breath a reminder of the unbreakable connection between us and our Creator.
Breathe in these verses as we prepare for Sunday’s palms and Friday’s cross. Breathe in the God these verses describe. God’s unbreakable connection endures forever. It can’t be dug up. It can’t be stamped out. It breaks through rocky soil. The cross threatens to break this unbreakable connection. But, in the cross we find that love is even stronger than breath.