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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Psalm 147:1–11

Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
   for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
   and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
   he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
   his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
   he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
   make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
   prepares rain for the earth,
   makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food,
   and to the young ravens when they cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love. (NRSV)

My history—my family and the places I’ve lived—makes it impossible for me to read that God “gathers the outcasts” and not think about refugees. According to a UN Refugee Agency report from last June, at the end of 2015 more than 65 million people were displaced. That’s one out of every 113 people. More than the population of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined. More than half of them were children, either separated from their parents or traveling alone. And the way, difficult enough already, is only getting more dangerous as countries close or restrict their borders.

From where will our hope come? It’s hard sometimes to look at the world, at all the ways we fail each other and ourselves, and have much faith in the future.

So I look to the words of the psalmist, who tells us that our God is a god of healing. Of building up, of gathering together. God’s reach—from the stars to the young ravens—is beyond our understanding. 

We know that not only are God’s measures not our own, but God’s means are not either. We may be—and often are—surprised by the ways in which God moves in this world.

And so I look to the words of others who also stood in times outside their understanding.

“And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.’” (Luke 1:46–56, NRSV)

Lord, help me hold before me what you have already done in the world, and remind me of the reach of your love. May I be open to see what you are at work doing in the world today and do what I can to clear a path for that work. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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