Day Seventeen — Monday

Kneeler 133

Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!

2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

from Chris's sermon on 29 May 2005 (read the rest as well!)

"I go for refuge to God the Father
 I go for refuge to God the Son
 I go for refuge to God the Holy Spirit

In saying "I go for refuge to God the Father" I take shelter in the idea that I come out of, and am created in the image of, an unknowable and transcendent truth. It is actually possible to take refuge in the idea that I am but a passing wave on an ocean that it is broader and deeper and vaster and more boundless than anything I can possibly conceive. While that thought is also scary, it is also reassuring in the sense that anything that comes along in the external world is sort of immediately put into perspective. Yes, I might die, or, as Psalm 46 puts it, "the world should change", yet I shall not fear.

In saying "I go for refuge to God the Son" I take refuge in the fact that there is also a humanly-scaled dimension to the help God provides. In Jesus, I have a guide, a teacher, a healer, someone who has walked the path before me, as well as someone who was willing to die for me. Someone who showed the truth of what it means to be a wave on that great ocean of the Father and who could choose with equanimity to pass away with it under shocking circumstances, and in so doing be reborn transformed as the first fruit of the Spirit. A refuge because he gives us the way, the truth and the life. A refuge in whom we can grow as branches in his vine, who gives us daily food, who gives us the confidence to go on. A refuge who embodies both the personal and transcendent and who is loved by the Father as his Son.

In saying "I go for refuge to God the Holy Spirit" I embrace change itself as a kind of refuge. The bright wind of heaven is always blowing and is calling me home. Rather than fearing change, coming to the Holy Spirit as a refuge means learning in the depths of the heart that change is written into the nature of creation, and it is glorious. For by taking refuge in the Holy Spirit comes the realisation a way of being that is relational, energised, yet totally free.

As a final thought for today on how to go for refuge to God, we might also note that beautiful line towards the end of Psalm 46 where, seemingly unconnected with the tumult that preceded it, it suddenly says "Be still and know that I am God." Maybe that is how, at the end of the day, we truly come to take final refuge in the great mystery of existence that we call God. …"

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.