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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 95:1–7   

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
   let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
   let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
   and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
   the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
   and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
   let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture,
   and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! (NRSV)

God is God, and I am not.

This is what I say to myself when I need to recapture some elusive humility or internally reorder my perception of a situation that seems to be teetering toward chaos.

Hold that thought, please.

When I looked up Psalm 95 on Wikipedia (sometimes these devotions write themselves, but not always), I learned several interesting things. In the Christian tradition (or, at least, the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran parts of it), this psalm is sung as an invitation to morning prayer. Jewish liturgy places it as a prayer during Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Sabbath immediately preceding Passover, and as a piece of the Kabbalat Shabbat. The latter use is, roughly translated, a “welcoming of the sabbath.” If you click on the illustration on Psalm 95’s Wikipedia page, you’ll get to see a beautiful Russian icon depicting the psalm. It’s hard to make out the fine details, but the various scenes are framed with “walls” that are topped with a series of steeples. That suggests to me that the whole world is sacred space, a fitting place to worship and sing God’s praises.

God is God, and I am not.

Psalm 95 brings this to mind. It’s a good thing to remember as we begin our days, or enter a time of prayer, or go out into the world (or even into a new room as we move through our days at school or home or work). This psalm twice (verses 1 and 6) invites us to sing and worship and humble ourselves before the One who really is in charge, the One who is the source of all that is, the One who loves with an exquisite, perfect, and eternal love.

God—immanent and transcendent, omnipotent and vulnerable, tender and mighty—thank you. Accept our humble praise and worship. We are grateful that you are God and we are not. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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