Christian theology is a wonderful construct, honed over many centuries and still concisely captured in the Creeds – but is it more than that? Does God still do stuff? The writer of Psalm 124, David or someone who shared his faith, certainly believed that God was active in human affairs, and on their side against enemies who seemed as powerful as a raging sea.
One of the enemies of belief todays is a scientism which at worst casts religion as the enemy of humankind, and at best as a harmless private hobby. Two recent films, Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, featured Winston Churchill but conspicuously avoided his interpretation of Britain’s survival as a miracle, and never referred to King George VI calling the nation to prayer just before the evacuation from France.
This poem reflects on this contemporary refusal to credit God with the power to do stuff.
They’re nae athegither tuim-heidit,
them as beats the drum fir science
an cannae fin God ony place.
Whit dae they expeck? Angels
stottin oot o test tubes, cherubs
ridin quarks, a derk god bleck-holed?
We niver really thocht o angels
dancin on the heids o peens,
yon wis jist philosophers flytin.
Heivin is whaur God’s aw aroon;
wioot, the universe is tuim indeed,
sae tuim it faas tae less thin stoor.
Can ye hae guid wioot a faith? Aye,
whiles. It taks a wheen o generations
tae pit a ceevilisation back in clogs.
See ‘Darkest Hour’ – thon Churchill film?
He gat is ken an wit fae chiels
wha traivelled wi im unnergroon.
An see yon King wha cam tae back im,
Geordie ca’d a realm tae cruik its hochs;
nae wird o thon on the big screen.
Tuim-heidit? Tuim-hairtit? Tuim-saulit?
Fin yir ain metaphor, but listen up,
Israel: God will hae the hinnermaist wird.
Quick Scots gloss: tuim: empty, fin: find, stottin: bouncing/shooting, flytin: wrangling, wheen: a few, cruik its hochs: bend at the knee/kneel down, hinnermaist: last.
PRAY Lord, graciously fill the heads, the hearts, the souls of those for whom we pray with wisdom, love and holiness. Raise up good leaders and good thinkers for church and nation, we pray. Amen.
1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say—
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.