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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, February 15, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 1

Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish. (NRSV)

Reflection
I love this psalm. I memorized it at one time in my life. During another stage I set a goal for myself based on it. That goal was that as I got older I would be like one of those trees planted by streams of water, always bearing fruit—even into my old age—and never withering.

Well, I am older now, and I know that there is a certain amount of withering that takes place whether I like it or not. But I still want to be like one of those trees, and I know it’s possible, because I see people who have succeeded. A couple in Evanston who exuded hospitality and joy in their younger years opened their home often to ministry groups for celebrations of God’s good work, fed so many with food and with love. There was another woman in her nineties on her deathbed. She could no longer really speak. But whenever anyone came into her room, she would hold up one finger, point to that person, and mouth “I love you.” There are the obvious ones like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. But it’s good to notice the ordinary ones, because they prove this goal can be achieved.

The connector among these people is their meditation on the ways of God. The psalm says, “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked . . . but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.”

The folks I mentioned centered themselves around the ways of God, the teachings of Jesus, the community of faith. That was the template through which they viewed life and how they should live. A tree planted by streams of water, always bearing fruit, never withering, providing shade and rest and beauty is such a wonderful image. It’s still my goal.

Prayer
Loving God, thank you for reminding me of something I would like to achieve, a way I would like to age. Keep putting in my midst those wonderful people who are like those trees planted by streams of water. They provide rest and shade and beauty for me. And I am thankful. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care


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