Henri Nouwen and the 133rd Psalm

A great quote from a great theologian, Henri Nouwen:

“One of the main tasks of theology is to find words that do not divide, but unite, that do not create conflict, but unity, that do not hurt but heal.” (https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/henri_nouwen)

Nouwen was born Dutch, but spent much of his academic life in the United States. In fact, he did a stint at the Yale Divinity School as a professor of pastoral theology (1971-1981). His words say much about where theology should lead us. It should lead us to finding ways to live in harmony with one another and, of course, in harmony with God, leading the life that God has planned for us.

The 133rd psalm is in the lectionary for this week, the Second Sunday of Easter (Year B). My feeling is that a reading of this Psalm, a full immersion in this psalm, will lead us to the inescapable conclusion that unity is one of the qualities that we must seek, and to do this we must seek it in one another. And this spans the people of the whole world, not just the narrow categories that we attribute to peoples or nations.

Here is the World English Bible translation of the 133rd Psalm:

A Song of Ascents. By David.
See how good and how pleasant it is
for brothers to live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
that ran down on the beard,
even Aaron’s beard,
that came down on the edge of his robes,
like the dew of Hermon,
that comes down on the hills of Zion;
for there Yahweh gives the blessing,
even life forever more.

 

The 133rd Psalm will be the text this Sunday for the Sermon at First Presbyterian Church of Alpena.

4 thoughts on “Henri Nouwen and the 133rd Psalm”

  1. Bill, you hit the nail on the head. Unity has to start between individuals then spread out between community’s and on from there. A reverse example would be Cain and Abel. Look at the middle east how unity is the opposite of what’s going on there.

    1. Thanks for your observations, Dad. I think unity is a multiplier. Yes, we can do much as individuals, but two or three together can do more than two or three separately:)

        1. Hi Richard, I like your thinking here. There is a sense of unity in being gathered, and wherever we are gathered there too is God. When praying at meetings I like to point out that God is always present and when we pray it should be for our awareness of that presence.

          Being back on a blog reminds me of Coffman’s class on Calvin, where we used to spend hours and many words discussing deep theology. Everything from Predestination to the roles of church and state.

          Good to hear from you.

          Blessings,

          Bill

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