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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, May 11, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 1

Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.  (NRSV)

Years ago I decided I was going to memorize this psalm. I was newly committed to following a life of faith, after growing up unchurched and then angry at organized religion. Even after my conversion I was without a church home, feeling unwelcome at the congregations I visited.

So I did what I do when looking for guidance. I read. G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle. And I found the Book of Common Prayer and, through that, the Psalms.

These weren’t always helpful, to be sure. Often I found them overwhelming. But I continued to read them, and the language and rhythms slowly became part of my being.

The other thing I did back then was look for examples of faithful living in real life. From them I heard the advice to be around people who have what you want. Not necessarily those who believe what you believe or think the way you do, but who exemplify the way of being you wish to have. People who live with courage and honor. Who seek beauty and goodness around them and in others and then reflect that back to the world. Who do not “sit in the seat of scoffers . . .”

In the end, I never committed this particular psalm to memory, as I found other passages that fell more easily into my mind and my mouth. And over time I found several church homes, as I’ve moved across the country and as my life has changed. And between these two streams of wisdom—God’s people and God’s word—I have been well watered.

God, may I ever seek out your way, and then have the courage to follow it. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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