Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage* (Psalm 104) transports me to a fantastic scene of the Sacred Superhero soaring through the sky with the clouds for a chariot, riding on the wings of the wind, clothed in nothing but light, accompanied by flaming servants. The songwriter here praises this awe-inspiring Lord of all Creation for all the provisions made to sustain the circle of life. God is indeed great and God is good, and we thank God for the food given to all sorts of creatures–wild asses and sea monsters and beasts and badgers. By God’s hand we ALL are fed, so give us Lord our daily bread. Oh chariot–holding that cup it’s pouring over the sides, makes me wanna spread my arms and fly, O chariot, give me strength.
I wonder if the Canaanite woman who badgered Jesus in this week’s primary passage could have ever been in a place where she would have heard this Psalm recited. If so, I wonder if it was in her mind when she countered Jesus’ rejection of her request for healing, when he told her he couldn’t take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. Even the dogs must get their share she responded. It was a good comeback, from the standpoint of this Psalm, for how could a woman be outside the provision of God’s care, simply because she happened to be born a little north of promiseville? How could that be, if God has enough provision to meet the needs of wild asses? Didn’t God even set a table for the dreaded dragon, Leviathon? How could God refuse to provide for the people of Tyre and Sidon, no matter if they had a reputation for being a bunch of wild ass monsters in their own right?
No, when this woman imagined the great chariot rider in the sky, she understood that the power and provision was for all of creation, not reserved for the elite few. Her continued plea for Jesus to include her in his circle of life-giving power and Jesus’ subsequent praise of her faith is a powerful lesson for the body of Christ in every age, a lesson of radical inclusion and radical sharing of whatever resources of life we have. The body of Christ is always tempted to exclude the badgers and monsters and wild asses, but this woman reminds us that they are all part of our circle. She reminds us that the One clothed in light and riding on the wind has enough surplus love and compassion spilling out over the sides to go around to all the children of the world, not just the ones in our small circle. It’s enough to say grace over. O chariot, I’m singing out loud, guide me. . .
How about you? Where does this passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.