In Your Hand
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand. – Psalm 31:14-15a (NRSV)
Jesus would have known Psalm 31 from his childhood. As a teenager or young adult, he might have been asked to read it in his synagogue. The psalm’s promise that his times were in God’s hand might have sustained him when Joseph died or as he went into the Judean wilderness after his baptism. When he returned and learned that King Herod had arrested John, perhaps Jesus prayed Psalm 31 for his cousin—and for himself.
Throughout his life, Jesus also experienced the psalm’s promise first-hand (no pun intended). Sometimes the experience was mystical, as when the angels ministered to him in the desert. Most times it was far more earthy. The flesh-and-blood hands of his father or perhaps of a Bethlehem midwife that pulled him forth from his mother’s womb. Mary’s hands guiding his mouth to her breast. A teacher’s hand on his shoulder. John’s hand holding him as he leaned back into the river for his baptism.
He’d felt the clasp of a friend’s hand in his. He knew the abundance that came from Mary Magdalene’s hands and those of the other women who provided for him and the disciples “out of their resources.” Perhaps they all held hands when they prayed or blessed a meal.
And perhaps, along with Psalm 31, it was his experience of God’s hand through human hands that held him to the very end, when he cried “into your hands I commend my spirit” and breathed his last.
Thank you, Holy One, for your hand and all the hands that have held us in our times, too. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.