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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today’s Reading | Psalm 139:1–18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
     you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
     and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
     O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
     and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
     it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
     Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
     if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
     and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
     and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
     and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
     the night is as bright as the day,
     for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
     you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
     Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
     intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
     all the days that were formed for me,
     when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
     How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
     I come to the end—I am still with you. (NRSV)


Reflection

I am one of those people enamored with Top 10 lists for almost anything (especially Things to Do in Chicago’s Summer or Chicago Restaurants—recommendations welcome!). This psalm goes on my personal Top 10 Favorite Scriptures: the poetry is beautiful, the imagery moving.

This psalm is, for me, the essence of the God who has chosen to be God For Us and God With Us, the God whose name was revealed to Moses in a burning bush as the “I Am that I Am” or in a rougher translation, the Being One. Eternally present with us, when we slumber and when we awake, at the beginning and at the end, in all that we do and in all the places we go, we’re not alone. God doesn’t give up on us, even when we have given up on our world and on ourselves.

Maybe you find yourself despairing or mourning because there is loss, injustice, and suffering—God is there. Your heart may be full of pain and sorrow—God is there. Maybe you feel far from God, you’ve lost your way or have turned away—God is there. Maybe you feel beyond forgiveness and grace—God is there. When you smile, when you experience joy, when you greet your loved one, when you lift up the fainthearted and defend the vulnerable, when you help your neighbor and befriend a stranger—God is there.


Prayer

Out on the farthest edge, there in the silence, you were there.
My faith was torn to shreds, heart in the balance, but you were there.
I thought I had seen the end, everything broken, but you were there.
I’ve wandered heaven’s gates, I’ve made my bed in hell, you were there still
always faithful, always good, you still have my heart.
You have me. You have my heart completely. Amen.
(adapted from a Gungor song, “You Have Me”)

Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident


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