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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 33

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
   Praise befits the upright.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
   make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song;
   play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the Lord is upright,
   and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
   the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
   and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
   he put the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
   let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
   he commanded, and it stood firm.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
   he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
   the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
   the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

The Lord looks down from heaven;
   he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches
   all the inhabitants of the earth—
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
   and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
   a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
   and by its great might it cannot save.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
   on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
   and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
   he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
   because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you. (NRSV)

I enjoy reading psalms. Many, like this one, seem a little formulaic. We are called to praise God. We are reminded of God’s abiding love and faithfulness. We acknowledge that we wait on the Lord, our help and shield.  Formula has its purpose. It reminds us that faith, active faith, is a habit. As my father-in-law would have said, “Habits are habits. They are not choices.”

Having grown up in a non-liturgical church, I find that I crave the practices, the habits, of this church that I call home. Routines can grow old quickly, but they can also be a very present help in time of need. As a teacher, I find that routines provide students a framework to think in and to process information through until that knowledge becomes theirs. Routines offer a place to begin when one can’t think of how to start or where to turn.

Keeping practices or habits fresh is really the tricky part. This psalm reminds us, like many do, to sing to the Lord a new song, not the one we learned last week or last year—like jazz improvisation or singing a spiritual. If is performed the same way twice, you are doing something wrong. There must be creativity in our practice. We need to find room for the new ideas in our routines.

Yet, lest we become complacent in our own righteousness, the psalmist reminds us, “A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. . . . Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”

Faithful and guiding God, help me to live out my faith daily. With Christ as my guide, lead me to practices of faith that build your kingdom and draw others to you. Amen.

Written by Robert Sinclair, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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