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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 63:1–8

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
   my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
   as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
   beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
   my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
   I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
   and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
   and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
   your right hand upholds me. (NRSV)

There are those nights that come to most, if not all, of us when we are tossing and turning, worrying about what has happened or what may happen in the future. Doubts may gnaw at us. Fears may toy with our hearts. Regrets may weigh down on us. Sometimes these nights may turn into day, when we are fatigued by not enough sleep and cranky about every little thing that doesn’t go our way.

It might happen on a more subtle level, too. Maybe we haven’t thrashed around in bed last night, but still the little doubts and fears and regrets may hover over our shoulders just out of sight. We may try to cover our anxieties over with a smile, but we know that our hearts are not at peace.

What are the doubts and fears and regrets that flit through your mind today?

This psalm gives us other images to hold in our minds as a kind of antidote to the worries. This is a form of Christian meditation—to hold things in mind. (Eastern traditions call this contemplation, but Christian contemplation involves emptying the mind.) The Bible gives us so many different images for God, so many ways to meditate on love and life-saving grace.

Meditate—imagine—God sheltering you under a great wing.
Meditate—imagine—God feeding you with nourishing food.
Meditate—imagine—God’s hand holding you as though you were a tiny bird, safe in the nest of God.

The psalmist also blesses God in this psalm, and I wonder if that act is also part of what saves the psalmist. To express our love of God in prayer, to become the one offering blessing, first to God and then to the world, might be another way to let God’s love change us.

God of strength and comfort, thank you. Help me to rest in you, to be strengthened by your love, and to turn around and share that love and blessing with others. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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