Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pentecost 21c - Psalm 121

Easter window at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Irving TX designed by Robert Werberig
The window tells the story of the wounded God who at the crack of dawn keeps His promise, raising the Christ who died for our redemption. Since then, people who bear the mark of the Son follow in His tradition, engaged in the tasks of raising others from death. Each such resurrection here is a small signal of the great resurrection yet to come.

Psalm 121
Psalm 121 is read at funerals during or right after the procession from hearse to graveside. It is spoken by the living on behalf of the one whose eyes closed in death now gaze upon the maker of heaven and earth. It is a defiant declaration that death will not have the last word for the help that comes from the Lord turns the isolation and darkness of the grave into the gateway of the communal life in light everlasting. On Sunday the living faithful gathered at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Irving TX to remember and give thanks for Robert Werberig, pastor and theologian of the church. I remember he once told a group of pastors that ministry wasn’t all that complicated. Just preach the Gospel and pray like a dog. I’ve tried to do both ever since. But more important than remembering Bob was remembering the Lord who was not slow to help him but arrived just in time so that hearing the last line of the 23rd psalm Robert’s final breath here was his first breath in the place where the Lord neither slumbering nor sleeping preserves his life from this time forth and forevermore. Godspeed, Bob. You will be missed until the day when we who know in part and see as through a mirror dimly will know fully and see face to face even as you do now.


  1. I didn't know Robert Werberig, but your post reminded me of someone of the same pastoral yoke, and Eugene Peterson's commentary on this and other Psalms, known as "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction."
    Peterson writes this: "The Christian life is not a quiet escape to a garden where we can walk and talk uninterruptedly with our Lord; not a fantasy trip to a heavenly city where we can compare our blue ribbons and gold medals with others who have made it to the winner's circle. To suppose that, or to expect that, is to turn the nut the wrong way. The Christian life is going to God. In going to God Christians travel the same ground that everyone walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, shop in the same stores, read the same newspapers, are citizens under the same governments, pay the same prices for groceries and gasoline, fear the same dangers, are subject to the same pressures, get the same distresses, and are buried in the same ground.
    The difference is that each step we walk, each breath we breathe, we know we are preserved by God, we know we are accompanied by God, we know we are ruled by God; and therefore no matter what doubts we endure or what accidents we experience, the Lord will preserve us from evil, he will keep our life....
    Psalm 121, learned early and sung repeatedly in the walk with Christ, clearly defines the conditions under which we live out our discipleship, which, in a word, is God. Once we get this psalm into our hearts it will be impossible for us to gloomily suppose that being a Christian is an unending battle against ominous forces that may at any moment break through and overpower us. Faith is not a precarious affair of chance escape from satanic assaults. It is the solid, massive, secure experience of God who keeps all evil from getting inside us, who keeps our life, who keeps our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forevermore."

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