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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 104:1–23

Bless the Lord, O my soul.
    O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
    wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
    you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
    you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
    fire and flame your ministers.

You set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
    at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal;
    the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
    they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
    and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
    and bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw
    and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work
    and to their labor until the evening. (NRSV)

After one particularly bad afternoon spent arguing on the phone with my brother recently, he sighed and said, “I wonder when the holidays became something to ‘get through’ instead of enjoy?” I couldn’t have said it better. Every year, just before Thanksgiving, until the beginning of the new year, I feel like my life is under contract to the chaos of the season, other people’s agendas, commitments, obligations, and psychologies. My mom will always gently remind me to “remember the reason for the season,” meaning the celebration of our Savior’s birth. And that does help, but this year, I needed something more—and I prayed to God to show me that something.

When I read Psalm 104, I felt an instant sense of calm and order. It became clear in these words that from the flow of streams and springs to the patterns of towering mountains to the rain that helps the grass to grow and subsequently feed the cattle, God has got this! God has created a beautiful, orderly foundation of life, beauty, and bounty, which includes every living creature on God’s earth. Psalm 104 is such a good reminder to me to notice that every day begins with God’s light to mark the sunrise, and every night God lays us down to rest and rejuvenate until a new morning arrives. At that time “all the forest animals (that) prowl about . . . slink back into their dens to rest,” and we are given the gift of a new day.

In the midst of this chaotic, stressful season, these words brought me back to “the reason for the season”: that every day we are all given the gift of life, each and every one of us, complete with the promise of God’s unfailing love, care, and beauty.

Lord, help me to notice the symmetry, beauty, and peaceful flow of the world you have created for me and for all your precious creatures. Amen.

Written by Patty Donmoyer, Receptionist

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