Weathering the Storm
I’m embarking on a two-month journey of preaching solely to children. I am simultaneously intrigued by and terrified of this exercise.
Almost immediately I’ve found that Scripture becomes a lot clearer when the recipients of the Word are children. I lose any desire I have to be esoteric and instead my guiding question is: How will this affect them? What about this is relevant to their lives and the way they understand God?
Psalm 29 is the focus text for next Sunday – The Voice of God in a Great Storm.
If I was preaching this text to adults, I would be tempted to say – yeah. I get it. It’s about the presence of God – but that’s too simple. What’s underneath it? Can we pick apart the Hebrew? Compare it to other conceptions of God in the Ancient Near Eastern world?
But you know, maybe it’s enough that it’s about the presence of God. For adults and for kids.
Seamus Heaney’s poem, Storm on the Island, comes to mind.
We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.
The wizened earth had never troubled us
With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks
Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees
Which might prove company when it blows full
Blast: you know what I mean – leaves and branches
Can raise a chorus in a gale
So that you can listen to the thing you fear
Forgetting that it pummels your house too.
But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
You might think that the sea is company,
Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
The very windows, spits like a tame cat
Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.
We are bombarded by the empty air.
Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.
During the great storms of my life, all my planning and preparing and fortress building has proven almost useless against the savage wind. Very often, the only thing to do is sit tight. To bear into the storm.
The Scripture reminds us that when we’re in that place and none of our defenses feel very sturdy, the presence of God surrounds us, alongside us as we sit tight together.