Living in the Spirit of Wonder

by the Reverend Canon Stewart Murray

This article appears in the June issue of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

I have had a great love of the psalms since my days of singing as a chorister in the choir at St. Matthew’s Ottawa. Even as a young boy singing the psalms caught my imagination. I think this was partly because they were meant to be sung or at least read aloud to get a feel for the meaning of the words and images that they employ. I have often wondered if they would have been so meaningful if I had simply read the words on the pages of the Prayer Book.

Over the years the range of emotions, questions and struggles that the psalms express have enabled me to grow in my understanding of my relationship with God. There are psalms of praise and thanksgiving, such as Psalm 150, which have provided the words I lacked to express my sense of the wonder and glory of the living God. There have been psalms such as Psalm 38 that have helped me express my disappointment with God and the discouragement I have felt – “Put me not to rebuke, O Lord, in thine anger”. The first psalm I memorized, Psalm 23, still brings a great measure of comfort in times of stress and frustration when I need to remember that indeed God is my faithful shepherd.

Over the years certain psalms have become constant companions in my prayers. Psalm 27 has been one such psalm. The opening verse, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? / The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?”, is for me an affirmation of my faith and hope in Christ: a faith that enables me to live without fear and that gives me vision and strength in the face of the challenges we all face. The psalm speaks to me most powerfully of the trust I need to have in Christ and in His love and faithfulness towards me.

Trust is not always easy to achieve in the world today. Warnings about the danger of trusting the safety and privacy of the internet and emails and the frequent exposure of fraudulent claims of ads for everything from food products to cars erode trust and our sense of security. In our personal lives most of us have experienced the sadness and anger of a trust betrayed by someone close to us. Fear of such hurt and disappointment can at times make it very difficult to trust; it can seem easier to only count on oneself and to keep others at a distance, leading to isolation, loneliness and fear. God, however, has shown that He is worthy of my trust and indeed my love. The image of the crucified Lord on the cross speaks to me of the depth of His love and commitment to me and to all who turn to Him.

Actions indeed speak louder than words when we are talking of love and trust. Psalm 27 reminds us that by putting our trust in the living God, we will triumph over the trials and difficulties that we all face in life. The psalm reminds us that at times we need to “be strong, and let thy heart take courage, and wait upon the Lord”; to learn to be patient and remember that our lives are in the hands of a loving and wise Father. So I encourage you to explore the psalms, to read them aloud, to sing them and discover what God desires to reveal to you through them.