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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 136

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;

who alone does great wonders,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;

who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who divided the Red Sea in two,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who led his people through the wilderness,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who struck down great kings,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed famous kings,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to his servant Israel,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
     for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven,
     for his steadfast love endures forever. (NRSV)

Reflection
We thank thee, Lord God, heavenly Father, for all of thy benefits. For thou art good, and thy mercy endureth forever.

After every meal with my grandparents, before we were excused from the table, we would say that prayer. We didn’t pray it at home, and so I always stumbled a bit over the words, never quite remembering from visit to visit exactly how it went.

Except now. Now, as an adult, when I pause for a moment of prayerful gratitude to God, those are always the words that come first to mind. Every one of them. In precisely the “right” order. Without my even inviting them.

What a gift are the words and rituals of faith! What a bedrock they become. What a precious resource.

“For his steadfast love endures forever.”

Repeated again and again, verse after verse, those words can—in our digital-era quick scan for words that are important, new, worth our time—those words can become a blur well before  we get halfway through our gratitude for creation, before we even get to the story of salvation. “Yes, I read that already. Got it.”

But with deliberation the psalmist calls us to repeat that refrain: “For his steadfast love endures forever.” The psalmist invites us to pause, to not rush, to not simply offer a concluding blanket statement of thanksgiving, but instead we are led to offer thanks to God for each and all, for every good thing. For all. From the lowest estate to the highest heavens, for the great and mighty works and for the simple goodness.

We are called to embody a posture of praise—O give thanks to the Lord—for indeed, God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer
Open my eyes, O Lord, to the goodness that abounds, in ways large and small. For your abiding presence and activity in our world, for the words to express it and the heart that cannot hold it, we thank thee Lord God, for thou art good, and thy steadfast love endures forever. Amen.

Written by Ann Rehfeldt, Director of Communications

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