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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Today’s Reading |  Psalm 111

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
   in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
   studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
   and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
   the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
   he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
   in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
   to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant forever.
   Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
   all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever. (NRSV)

Having recently completed a class on Job through the Academy for Faith and Life, “the fear of the Lord” has been a very present conversation in my world. My class took some time to express what the word fear meant to each of them individually by naming words that the word fear itself made them feel or think: afraid, anger, reverence, honor, helpless, respect, power, and many more. The range of emotion and confusion that the word brought out in just a few short minutes leads me to believe that we need to keep at it as a community of faith. As a community of faith, how we read language, write language, interpret language, and share our faith language is extremely important.

Regarding fear, in the words of character Inigo Montoya of the movie The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means!” Well, then, what does fear mean in the context of this psalm? In one instance the “fear of God” provides “food,” and in another “fear of God” provides “wisdom.” Does this mean, literally, that if I do not “fear God” I will starve and remain unwise?

The definition that you choose for “fear” in the context of this psalm will be completely up to you. I would like to share what my word has always been to describe fear in this context: Love. When I watch the news these days, I’m finding it much harder to share unconditional love than to be afraid. When I think of the world today, I’m finding it more challenging to enter into solutions of unbound love than one that feels helpless. We seem to have a twenty-first-century version of fear all covered. When did love become more of a challenge than fear? In ”fearing” God, I will seek to love God more and to live more fully into God’s will for me.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Amen.

Written by Mark Eldred,
Worship Coordinator and Interim Director of Adult Education

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