The psalmist describes an enormous storm with God as the source of the storm. This text resonates with the ancient Canaanite narrative of Baal, the God of Thunder, who tames chaos. From a historical critical perspective, it is certainly wise to exegete these parallel narratives. How might the ancient people have understood God’s role as both instigator and peacemaker? Like in the first Creation narrative, God displays God’s power in asserting tranquility over disarray. (See Genesis 1:1-5.) It’s also worth drawing a parallel to Jesus’ calming the storm. (See Mark 4:35-41.) But what do we make of God as the source of the storm before the calm? In Psalm 29, it is God who initiates the flood, earthquake, and fire. God breaks the unbreakable trees—and then God calls it off with a simple shalom (peace). What do we make of these mighty acts—the interruption and destruction of nature—followed by a declaration of power and peace?
In both the Genesis narrative and this psalm, God breaks through. God demonstrates mastery over each: the forces that cannot be harnessed nor tamed by humans. When we read these texts together, we are reminded of this resonance across testaments: an almighty, glorious God who commands calm from chaos.
We could certainly use a bit of peace. But we crave control—and we exercise it by relying on our own strength to create order. But this is not the nature of the revealed Ultimate Reality whom we worship. Our role as humans is to remain humble—trusting that God is powerful enough to create beauty from void and shalom from storm.
God, help us to approach you with awe, as in creation and storm. Amen.
This week’s readings use both water and wind (Spirit) in a variety of ways. Water and wind are present in the Genesis story of God's bringing order out of chaos. Both the epistle and Gospel bring images of water in baptism and with the Spirit present. The psalmist invokes the voice of God thundering over waves and causing trees to shake. In the account of Jesus’ baptism, that same voice breaks through to proclaim that Jesus is God’s Son, the Beloved. Also, in the middle of this week, we celebrate Epiphany with Isaiah's inspiring vision of dawn breaking and the invitation to arise and shine because Light has come to us.
Read Genesis 1:1-5. Where have you seen God bringing order out of chaos in your life? What are the situations in your life or in our world that seem formless or chaotic now? Can you see God working to bring order in those situations?
Read Psalm 29. How do you respond to the powerful images of God’s action reflected in this psalm?
Read Acts 19:1-7. How would you answer Paul’s question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became [a believer]?” How do you see the Spirit active in your life?
Read Mark 1:4-11. Can you hear God saying to you, “You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased”? How does it feel to imagine God saying those words to you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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