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Imagining the Lectionary: God the Upholder (Proper 12A/Ordinary 17A)
Reflection accompanying images “marine way suspension bridge southport, pedestrians on marine way suspension bridge southport, anchor point on marine way suspension bridge southport.”.
'Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope'.
Psalm 119.116

'But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.'
Psalm 54.4

'The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.'
Psalm 145.14

‘For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, saviour of those without hope.'
Judith 9.11

With its striking ultra modern design the Marine Way Suspension Bridge in Southport is a bit of a gift to photographers and visual theologians alike. The fact of people being upheld and the engineering solution by which this happens are powerfully apparent to the onlooker.  The towering uprights, array of cables and very obvious anchor points on the underside of the massive deck convey impressive strength, both in terms of structure and single mindedness of design. The teenage pedestrians walking across the bridge seem entirely unaware of the physics beneath their feet which is keeping them aloft. They have no need to know why the bridge works, they simply accept that it does, and that this is an unchanging and reliable given.

Scripture conveys a particularly impressive conviction in the power of God to uphold. The picture is of an awesome and dependable presence and strength of purpose, engineered through grace and anchored in loving kindness, which holds all things in being and which keeps us from falling. God's love provides the way for us to travel and God's presence upholds us with a substantial sense of something tangible and reliable beneath our feet, which keeps us aloft spiritually. God is the ultimate unchanging and reliable given, whose love holds all things in being. Through his life-changing experience of Christ, Paul has a deep and profound sense of the truth of this.



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