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Sunday, April 17, 2016

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
This entire psalm is framed as a one of thanksgiving and gratitude. Three times it states, “Let us give thanks to the Lord” and twenty-six times “for his loving-kindness endures forever.”

This psalm models a stance of gratitude, which we too can apply to our daily lives. Gratitude is a powerful tool we have to shift our state of being from one of fear, anxiety, depression, resentment, or anger—which usually involves cowering, contracting, striking out, an exaggerated negative outlook, pessimism, negativity, and judgment—to a state of gratitude, which invites in openness, receiving, embracing, expansion, and a positive outlook. Our brain is an amazingly capable organ, but it cannot be in a state of gratitude and anxiety or depression at the same time. This would be like expecting a glass to distinctly hold hot and cold water simultaneously.

When we intentionally notice and name moments in our lives that we are grateful for or appreciative of, a negative state is interrupted. It is interesting that the smaller the moment noticed and the more the moment involves our senses, the more effective it tends to be: I am grateful for the first swallow of coffee this morning; for the sound of birds singing; for the lighthearted exchange with my colleague; for the gentle touch of someone I love; for that moment of attention shown me by my cat or dog; for a felt sense of connection to Spirit when I watch the sunrise or sing in worship, etc.

Try this today and remember: God’s loving-kindness will always be there for you in tangible ways!

Prayer

Dear God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your loving-kindness. Help us to notice and be grateful each day for the ways your loving-kindness shows up in our lives. As your followers, may we every day find ways to be sources of your loving-kindness to this earth and all we encounter on it. Amen.

Written by Tom Schemper, Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being


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