A Long Story

By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from Psalm 89: Part II

19 You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:
“I have set the crown upon a warrior
and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20 I have found David my servant;
with my holy oil have I anointed him.

21 My hand will hold him fast
and my arm will make him strong.

22 No enemy shall deceive him,
nor any wicked man bring him down.

23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him,
and he shall be victorious through my Name.

25 I shall make his dominion extend
from the Great Sea to the River.

26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27 I will make him my firstborn
and higher than the kings of the earth.

28 I will keep my love for him for ever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.

29 I will establish his line for ever
and his throne as the days of heaven.

30 “If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my judgments;

31 If they break my statutes
and do not keep my commandments;

32 I will punish their transgressions with a rod
and their iniquities with the lash;

33 But I will not take my love from him,
nor let my faithfulness prove false.

34 I will not break my covenant,
nor change what has gone out of my lips.

35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness:
‘I will not lie to David.

36 His line shall endure for ever
and his throne as the sun before me;

37 It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon,
the abiding witness in the sky.’”

38 But you have cast off and rejected your anointed;
you have become enraged at him.

39 You have broken your covenant with your servant,
defiled his crown, and hurled it to the ground.

40 You have breached all his walls
and laid his strongholds in ruins.

41 All who pass by despoil him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.

42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes
and made all his enemies rejoice.

43 You have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not sustained him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor
and cast his throne to the ground.

45 You have cut short the days of his youth
and have covered him with shame.

46 How long will you hide yourself, O Lord?
will you hide yourself for ever?
how long will your anger burn like fire?

47 Remember, Lord, how short life is,
how frail you have made all flesh.

48 Who can live and not see death?
who can save himself from the power of the grave?

49 Where, Lord, are your loving-kindnesses of old,
which you promised David in your faithfulness?

50 Remember, Lord, how your servant is mocked,
how I carry in my bosom the taunts of many peoples,

51 The taunts your enemies have hurled, O Lord,
which they hurled at the heels of your anointed.

52 Blessed be the Lord for evermore!
Amen, I say, Amen.


The readings for today speak to the heart of anyone who loves a good superhero story. The psalm begins with a warrior. The gospel shows Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop, where the Father announces him as the Son, the Beloved (Matt. 17:1-13). Revelation shows us Satan forever defeated (20:7-15). In 1 Maccabees, Judas crushes his enemies that outnumber him (3:1-24). If one were to consider the fate of God’s people from this selective Biblical snapshot, it would appear they are doing pretty well.

While Psalm 89:19-37 may set a triumphant tone, it changes in verse 38:

But you have cast off and rejected your anointed;
you have become enraged at him.  

Psalm 89 reminds us that a snapshot is not the whole story. In today’s readings, Jesus has yet to be arrested, tried, crucified. In Revelation, while we hear of the ultimate defeat of Satan, the timeframe is long, possibly thousands of years. The Maccabees were able to establish independence for the Jewish people, but it was short-lived and followed by centuries of foreign rule.

We must be patient, for our story is long. We may not be living in an age of triumph. It may be that our current time is one of rejection, of casting off. We may long for the superhero to come right now and crush all that is wrong in the world and defend all that is good, but that may not be where we are in the story. It may be that we are between the light of the Transfiguration and the light of the empty tomb. It may be that we must walk through a time of darkness and disillusionment. But thankfully we do not do it alone. Let us continue to walk the long journey together, shoulder to shoulder, toward the light that is our one true hope at the end of all things, even if the path that we walk is shrouded in present darkness.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Honduras (Episcopal Church)
All Souls’ Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.


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