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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 65

Praise is due to you,
   O God, in Zion;
and to you shall vows be performed,
   O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
   you forgive our transgressions.
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
   to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
   your holy temple.

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
   O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
   you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
   the roaring of their waves,
   the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it,
   you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
   you provide the people with grain,
   for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
   settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
   and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
   your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
   the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
   the valleys deck themselves with grain,
   they shout and sing together for joy. (NRSV)

At a recent Jazz at Four service I preached a sermon on gratitude and responsibility in which I invited everyone present to think about all the things they have to be grateful for. Then, after a time of silence to reflect on this, we said our lists out loud. Here is what I said.

I am grateful for: sunshine, my breath, a great seminar yesterday learning about racism, my wife, my parents, having an apartment to live in, friends, and the lake, which is so beautiful and so big.

I’m grateful for color and how blue the lake gets—all the different shades of blue on different days—and sunsets and sunrises, and the clouds that make all those colors beautiful—the reds and oranges and yellows.

I’m grateful for the birds flying over the lake and the sounds they make, and for the rain that makes thing grow and plants, especially when they are very green or have flowers or are delicious to eat. I’m grateful for the seasons and for the smell of autumn leaves and the crisp air that wakes up my face some days. I’m grateful for sleep and for breathing, especially when I can get a really deep breath and it fills my whole lungs and I relax.

I’m grateful for smiles and kindness and when people say hello and seem happy to see me. I’m grateful for words—I love them—and for books and libraries and for grass to sit in. I’m grateful for blankets and picnics and children laughing and looking at things with amazement and wonder in their eyes. I want to look at the world like that, amazed and curious.

Then together, out loud, we all said, Thank you God, for all these things. Thank you God, for all these things. Thank you God, for all these things.

God has given us so many things to see, to experience, to notice, to be grateful for. God has given us so many things to love if we take the time to love them. And if we are really grateful for them, doesn’t it make you want to take care of them? Doesn’t it make you want to protect them?

Dear God, awaken me to your creation all around me. Help me to remember to be grateful and to give you thanks and praise every day. And help me to take responsibility and be a good caretaker of the world you have given us. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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