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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 78:1–4, 12–16

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
   incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
   I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
   that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
   we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
   and the wonders that he has done.

In the sight of their ancestors he worked marvels
   in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
   and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
   and all night long with a fiery light.
He split rocks open in the wilderness,
   and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock,
   and caused waters to flow down like rivers. (NRSV)

I pray the psalms because they help me remember that nothing is new under the sun, that whatever I face has been faced before. Doubt, fear, turmoil—none of this is new to humankind. God has been with us and will be again—is with us always.

But we need to be able to hear God’s word fully—not just what we want to. We need to be able to hear hard truths and be open to feeling them fully. To lament, to ponder our part. Only then can we get through to witnessing and being part of God’s miraculous power.

The lines in the rest of today’s psalm speak of a nation being taught and then forgetting. And we too are a culture that likes to forget. I look around and see a culture of addiction, myself included; we turn to whatever it is that makes us feel good or at least makes us not feel bad.

But that impulse to make ourselves feel better keeps us feeling numb. Keeps us from feeling our pain and our neighbors’ pain. And keeps us from truly being able to set things right, from truly seeing God’s miraculous work in the world or from being part of it. Instead we satisfy ourselves with the easy and the comfortable.

Yet we are God’s people, meant for marvelous things—if only we will show up for them.

So let us not hide from what is hard, let us not hide it from our children, so that we might truly tell to future generations the glorious deeds of the Lord.

Lord, open my ears that I may hear. Open my heart that I may feel. Open my mouth that I may speak your truth and glory. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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