God’s Pity – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Psalm 72: 7-8, 12-15, 17

If you have occasion to study a tapestry or quilt, where you can view both the front side and the back side, you often discover that though the front side may be more beautiful, the back side is more instructive and shows all the quite-hidden work that has enabled what is presented on the front side. That is a fact of life.

There is a word which surfaces in the Psalm we prayed a moment ago. This same word appears many times elsewhere in the psalter: pity.[i] The word “pity” comes from the same etymological root as our word “piety.” Pity is a holy compassion, and it begins with God’s piety. The psalmist cries out:

Have pity on me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are racked.[ii]
The psalmist also proclaims:
[God]shall have pity on the lowly and poor
[and]shall preserve the lives of the needy.[iii]

Isn’t it so reassuring that God, as the master weaver, knows us: knows what we present “up front,” and knows from whence it all comes, our “back side.” Isn’t it comforting that God who created us, calls us, uses us, is thankful for us, knows us well, pities us with a loving compassion.

Today we remember our departed Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist who, over the years, died in the month of May. We cherish these archival memories of our predecessors. God took pity on them, the complex and sometimes-tangled threads of their lives, and wove into them such amazing, distinctive, colorful, often complex and beautiful lives. We remember these departed Brothers both with amazement and with gratitude. We also remember how they give witness to God who looks on us all with such loving pity, and with such promise.


[i]For example, Psalm 9:13; 17:10;  25:15; 26:11; 72:13; 109:11.

[ii] Psalm 6:2.

[iii] Psalm 72:13.

You Are a Spice Rack – Br. Lain Wilson

John 7:37-52
Psalm 7:6-11

I’m sure most of us have spices in our pantries that just don’t get used that often. For me it’s fennel seed. I don’t really know what to do with it, and I’m happy using all the other, familiar spices.

And I’m sure that most of us can agree that cooking with just salt and pepper can be fairly boring.

As rich as the psalmist’s conception of God is, his descriptions of fellow people often feel a bit like salt-and-pepper cooking to me—simple binaries, like “righteous” and “wicked,” or types—the faithless friend. Of course, this isn’t what the Psalms are about; nevertheless, I often can’t help feeling a bit dissatisfied.

This morning’s Gospel reading displays a different dynamic. John describes the crowd as divided into at least three groups, in addition to the various authorities (who are themselves divided), and Jesus and his followers. This is a dramatic scene, with different beliefs, commitments, values, and desires demarcating the lines between and within the groups.

Nicodemus represents this. He’s a Pharisee and leader (Jn 3:1; Jn 7:50), who lays claim to “our law,” committed to both its authority and limitations. He’s also possibly a secret follower of Jesus, having come to him under cover of night earlier in the narrative. What he shows us here is not that his identities are exclusive, but that their coincidence, mixing, and expression make him an individual, set apart from the group. They give him agency, make him able to reach out, to speak for, to meet and relate with others in a different way. Read More