This coming Sunday, at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada we will sing the Psalm. It is amazing how much of the Semitic understanding of Basic Right and Wrong comes from the Exodus experience. As we chant the Psalm this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we chant of the Personal Name, who instructs the sinner in the way. The sinner seems to be a good example, the one in the way. How can this be? The Hebrew word for sinner means one who failed. What is the way? Our understanding of Basic Right and Wrong comes from the Exodus Experience.
Deuteronomy 2 relates the way. It is the way from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land. Moses relates, “I sent messengers from the wilderness of Preceding First to Conversation, Messenger of Contemplation, with this offer of peace: “Let me pass through your country. I will travel only on the road. I will not turn either to the right or to the left.”
The Latin word for “Left” is “Sinister.” Traveling the right way, we do not travel to the left, to the way of “Sinister.” We do not travel to the right either. The Latin word for “Right” is “Dexter” from which we get our word, “Dexterous,” “Skillful.” The Hebrew word is, “Amen.” The Mitt Romneys of the world on the political right, the pious people have never failed. They would show the deviants the way, to the right.
Neither the Sinister, nor dexterity is the way. The sinner, the one who failed, who knows he failed and all know he failed says, “You can’t scheißen an old Scheißehersteller.” As he looks at the deviant, he sees himself, as in a mirror. He says, “I know what you were doing, because in my hike of life, I did the same. Don’t feel bad. You were not the first.” With compassion, he points to the way back to the road to the Promised Land.
The Dexterous person is too dexterous, too full of “Amen.” He is not able to understand the frail who cannot keep up, and tries to cut a few corners to catch up with the proper folk. Seeing others fail, he believes the failures, deserve what they get. He does not understand that in the great band of life, it is not the dexterous, who carry the flag at the front of the parade, but the smallest and weakest. Then all can keep up.
The dexterous person diverts to the right and becomes just as much off the road to the Promised Land as the sinister. The Upright of God, Israel, Iashar El, is the one who remains on the road. The Hebrew word for “Iniquity,” means “bent, crooked.” The road is straight. The deviations are crooked. The person of iniquity has departed from the road to the left, or to the right. He can be Samuel, “Left of God” or Benjamin, “Son of the Right.”
Our Psalm continues, “Guide me in your truth, and teach me; you are the Mighty Judge of my Joshua/ Jesus/Salvation; for you do I wait all the day. Remember, Personal Name, your kindness and your mercies, for they have been from of old. Remember not the failures of my youth, or my rebellion; according to your kindness remember me, for your goodness’ sake, Personal Name. Satisfying and upright is the Personal Name; He instructs the failures in the way. He guides the humble, the failure in justice; and teaches the humble His way,” to be kind, merciful, and humble before others.
This leaves only one question. Where is the Promised Land? What is the definition of right and wrong? The article 2012-diocesan-conference-a-call-to-holiness-but-what-is-holiness answers this question. God calls us to create a society that all other societies envy, that all other societies would want to emulate. It is a life long process of moving from chaos to Abba, who is Haba, the One Who is to Come, who is Ahabba, which is love, welcoming all people sinners, failures, deviants, people from the wrong side of the railroad tracks, who speak funny/Spanish, who dress funny, Muslims, who pray funny, Muslims and Jews, and who look funny, African Americans, Native Americans, and all who are like us and not like us.