Revival in the the kiss of God
The psalmist writes, “Will you not revive us again?” Any one of us could write, feel, or pray the same thing when we are tired of the struggle and it feels like we are making so little progress. Justice can seem so far off, pain can seem so persistent, the reality we live in can seem so far from what we had hoped for.
What do you think? Can you imagine living in a world in which revival is guaranteed? In that imaginary world, everything would always get better. We would not need to pray for renewal. We’d just wait. But don’t you think we’d be hopeless? And being hopeless, doesn’t it seem like we wouldn’t need to pray? Doesn’t it seem like life would lose much of its sweetness?
But aren’t you also glad that we don’t live in the opposite imaginary world in which everything is guaranteed to get worse? We’d be hopeless in that case, too. There would be nothing to hope for, but all hopes would be dashed.
The prayer of hope, “Will You not revive us again?” is for people who live in the real world. The psalmist lives in ordinary life, but also looks beyond the ordinary to the source of life – God. The one who prays in hope is living in the ordinary but looks beyond it to the extraordinary. Prayer looks for an intervention that links our hearts and God’s, to refresh something we may have known in the past, so we can live in the present with a reasonable hope in the future.
Someone said, “You can’t be revived unless you’ve been vived.” In other words, you can ask for a renewal of life and hope if you are not alive. A plant might be wilted, but still be alive. There might not be any flames in the fireplace, but there can be coals under the ashes. Hope is for the living.
What a wonderful world we live in! A world that is full of hope, even though it may momentarily look hopeless. The psalmist gives us a beautiful gift of being able to see the world with spiritual sight, of a world in which God is active, meeting us in the present. The psalmist expresses his vision of the human encounter with God in physical, incarnational terms. God is not far away, but as close as a kiss, and from that kiss, truth springs up from the earth, righteousness comes down from heaven, and peace is the result.
“Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.”
The beauty of these words expresses something beyond the human experience, even though they express human experiences. We have experienced mercy, strive for truth, seek righteousness, and long for peace, and we seem so far from them all. Even so, the prayer invites us to experience the kiss of God, and in that kiss, find revival.
For the Christian, the psalmist’s divine-human encounter is located in space and time. “The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin…” is the way Luke tells it. “And the Word became flesh, full of grace and truth,” is the way John tells it. God, the Son of God, reaches down from heaven, and Mary, Our Lady of Hope, welcomes him with her “Let it be….” Jesus is the kiss. Mary’s Magnificat, can be our song, too. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord… he has lifted up the lowly and filled the hungry with good things.” Mary’s song and the psalmist’s prayer are one. They renew our lives in the present. Whether she sings it or we whistle it alone in the dark, the song is a song of faith we sing with sisters and brothers. The divine-human encounter still takes flesh in the community of faith; earth and heaven continue their embrace in the mystery of Christ’s body. Christ in us is the hope of glory, justice, and peace, the kiss of righteousness and truth.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.
Father Ernie Davis, Pastor, St Therese Little Flower Parish in Kansas City and Missouri Faith Voices board member