The Psalmist wrote:
Oh, how good and pleasant it is, *
when brethren live together in unity!
It is like fine oil upon the head *
that runs down upon the beard,
Upon the beard of Aaron, *
and runs down upon the collar of his robe.
It is like the dew of Hermon *
that falls upon the hills of Zion.
For there the Lord has ordained the blessing: *
life for evermore.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 133 [BCP version] – July 5, 2012)
This psalm is actually optional for Morning Prayer, but it’s one I rather like, so I included it today. This psalm is a song of God’s abundance. Brotherhood and unity are likened to flowing oil and falling dew. ~ First, the oil. This is “fine oil” or, as another translation renders it, “precious” oil. The Hebrew is from the same root as used repeatedly in Genesis when God describes creation as “good”, towb. This isn’t just any oil! And it flows in copious quantities. This is not just a small amount dabbed on a forehead, such as the church does in the rite of chrismation at baptism or in the anointing of the sick; this is oil poured liberally over the head, flowing onto “Aaron’s beard”, and spilling onto robes. The Hebrew word peh meaning “edge” is here rendered as “collar”, but in older translations it was given the meaning “skirts”, which underscores even more the more the image of profligate abundance. ~ Then the dew. Look at a map of the Holy Land. Mt. Hermon is in southern Syria about 150 miles north of Jerusalem (“Zion”). Dew falls on the mountain in sufficient quantity to run off and water the hills of Zion far to the south. Again, profligate abundance! ~ Today is the start of the Episcopal Church’s 77th General Convention. Coincidentally, the Presbyterian Church USA is in the midst of its similar General Assembly. My prayer today is that brotherhood (is there a non-sexist term that conveys the same idea? – “siblinghood”?) and unity will be abundant and will prevail as the church seeks a path forward to carry out its mission of extending God’s blessing to all.
Father Funston is rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.