A Psalm for the Sunday after the 12th of July

This week has seen Belfast explode in one of its all-too frequent episodes of self-destructive violence. The reasons are many and complicated... Bad political and policing decisions, poor leadership, ill-chosen rabble-rousing words...  it isn't sufficient to point the finger at those actually involved in the violence, predominantly working class or unemployed young people from both sides... they, in many ways were just the kindling waiting for the spark... 
It is too easy to blame others... anyone else... and not take a good long hard look at ourselves and ask what difference we have tried to make for the better. While we may not be guilty of sins of commission, there may be much that we have omitted to do...
There are times when I wonder whether I am wise continuing to live in this province and condemning my children to grow up in the toxic political atmosphere of this place. But part of my sense of call was about coming back here in order to try to make a difference... 
Today I start my ministry with a new congregation, based on the Lisburn Road, which the main Orange Parade on the 12th passes every year. As part of the 11am service this morning I will be using a responsive version of Psalm 139... But below is yet another version that I have adapted in the light of recent events...

You know me inside out O, Lord,
I’m an open book to you.
You know when I sit and when I stand;
you read my thoughts from afar.
You see my comings and goings;
I’m never out of your sight.
Before a single word is on my tongue O Lord,
You know how the sentence will end.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then look ahead and find you’re there;
your hand is always upon me.
This is all too much, too wonderful to understand;
My mind can’t take it in.

Where can I go to avoid your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your call on my life?
If I run to the hills, you are there before I am;
if I hide under the duvet, you are there beside me in the bed.
If I flew to far western horizon,
if I settled on the other side of the sea,
even there I would not be beyond your grasp;
you would be there already, waiting to embrace me.
If I said, “Surely darkness will hide me”
and tried to hide from your sight
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night shines like the day in the light of your love.
You made me, inside and out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am an amazing act of creation;
I acknowledge that all your works are wonderful.
You know every bone in my body, every nerve in my neural net;
You know exactly how I was made,
bit by bit., from conception to birth and beyond;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
before I’d even lived one day.

You know your thoughts are precious to me, O God!
I know I can't hope to comprehend them all.
I can't begin to grasp the breadth of your vision;
All I know is that when I wake from this nightmare
You'll be there with me.

But why do you put up with such wickedness, O God!?
If I had my way I would wipe out the men of violence.
I would stop the mouth of those who preach hatred and violence
And those who blaspheme by what they say and do in your name.

I hate these agents of antagonism
I abhor those who thrive on conflict;
I have nothing but contempt for them
I am totally intolerant of the intolerant.

But hold on...

Examine me, God, and know my heart;
Investigate my life O Lord, and know my inmost thoughts.
Reveal any unworthiness within me,
and lead me along the route 
to real life.
from Psalm 139


See also http://stocki.typepad.com/soulsurmise/2013/07/personal-soul-searching-on-this-twelfth-weekend.html

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