Psalm 139: 1–12
The word algorithm was almost unknown until the fiasco with the
GCSE and A level results last summer, when we discovered this bit of
electronic wizardry had re-assessed all the teacher-assessments and
adjusted them, most in a downwards direction.
Algorithms are employed far more frequently than we realise. When
I get an email from Amazon that says, ‘we thought you might like…’
it’s an algorithm that has noted all my book purchases and is
employed to dangle interesting books before me. Algorithms are
employed in every sphere of life when information has been amassed
about our likes and dislikes and so on. Supermarkets use them too.
‘O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my
rising, you discern my purpose from afar’. Is the Psalmist talking about
God employing his super algorithm, applying it to everyone and for
all time? And not just to what we do, but to what we think before we
think it, as in George Orwell’s 1984?!
The God the Psalmist speaks about is not sinister, even though he is
all-knowing and always present in our lives. He is always seeking our
best interests: ‘if I take the wings of the dawn…even there your hand
will lead me…’ This is the God who is the light of our lives even in the
darkness of Covid-19, who extends his ‘loving-kindness’ to us at all
times. That’s God’s algorithm: loving-kindness, not some high-tech
device. God who is always-with-us brings us hope because the
darkness will never extinguish his light, and there too we have his
peace that passes all understanding.
Living God, the light of our lives, source of our hope and giver of peace
in these anxious times; walk with us through these days of Advent as we
prepare to welcome you into our midst in Jesus. Amen.