Monday Matters (April 1, 2024)


Psalm 16:8-11

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

10 For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the Pit.

11 You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

This year, Monday Matters will focus on wisdom conveyed in the treasures of the book of Psalms. We’ll look at the psalms read in church before Monday Matters comes to your screen.

Asking for directions

I was reflecting on the different ways, over the course of my life, that I would get directions. Younger readers may not believe that glove compartments were crammed with maps and atlases, telling us where to go. At some point, mapquest emerged, providing a print out of where to turn right and where to turn left. That felt like great breakthrough. Now someone talks to you, telling you that in ten miles you need to take an exit. For those of us of a certain age, such guidance would have been unthinkable in earlier days. But however it comes to us, we all need direction in life.

We’ve completed the journey through the season of Lent. We’ve walked the way of the cross through Holy Week. Yesterday we arrived at the Feast of the Resurrection. The celebration of Easter may feel like we’ve reached a destination. Phew. But the journey continues, as we begin making our way through the season of Easter, 50 days that help us reflect on the path ahead.

For this Monday in Easter Week, we read from Psalm 16 with a promise (See the psalm above) Speaking of the Holy One, the psalmist says: You will show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy. All of which is to repeat that the spiritual journey continues. There’s always more. And so we need guidance along the way. Where will we find the guidance for next steps?

There are a variety of ways we find our way spiritually. For all of us, there are probably wrong turns that we make. The news of resurrection is that a living Christ provides the guidance we need. In coming days, we’ll read from Jesus’ last words to his disciples in the Gospel of John. We’ll see how he prepares them for the time when they don’t see him in person. He says that the Holy Spirit will come and guide them into all truth.

We claim such guidance is still available for us. It’s one of the things we celebrate in the Easter season as we make our way towards Pentecost when the Spirit comes to the church with that promised direction. I’m wondering if you’ve had the sense of the Spirit guiding you along the way.

Guidance for the spiritual journey can come in many ways. A good starting place is simply to do some listening, to set aside time in the rhythm of your life to sit in silence.

I’ve tried over the years to listen with the ear of my heart, as St. Benedict suggested. What’s your gut say? What brings you joy? What just doesn’t feel right? Frederick Buechner said that the place where God calls you is the place where the world’s deep hunger and your own deep gladness intersect. So we listen with our hearts.

That in turn means that one of the ways we are guided is by service to the world’s needs. Those needs are all around us, appearing in great variety. Clarity of direction can come as we get outside ourselves, seeking and serving Christ in all persons.

In my own journey, I find guidance in connection with scripture. There are plenty of passages I don’t quite get. Some I don’t like. But repeatedly, I find that these ancient words speak to my circumstances and provide a pathway forward.

God places us in community so that we can bounce ideas off each other and get direction. In communities where there are deep connection, we can find people who can speak the truth in love to us. (If you’re looking for a good book on discernment, consider getting a copy of Listening Hearts.)

And of course, we can return to a basic tool of discernment offered by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry who said that if it’s not about love, it’s not about God.

In this beautiful psalm, we find a promise that we will be guided in the way of life. May God give us grace in this week, in this Easter season and beyond to claim that promise for our own spiritual journeys. Happy Easter. And traveling mercies.

-Jay Sidebotham