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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 107:1–3, 23–32

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
   those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
   from the east and from the west,
   from the north and from the south.

Some went down to the sea in ships,
   doing business on the mighty waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
   his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
   which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
   their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards,
   and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he brought them out from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
   and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
   and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
   for his wonderful works to humankind.
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
   and praise him in the assembly of the elders. (NRSV)

I will acknowledge I was steeped in Universalism early on, so I’ve never begun to understand how to worship in a church that shuts people out. As long as that’s what I saw of Christianity, I didn’t.

But then there are the psalms like this one, that tell of gathering in people from all the lands and from all circumstances, gathering them in and making a home for them, a refuge from the storm, an oasis in the desert.

And I met people who lived this out, who could bring together the God I knew—of quiet mosses and breathtaking storms, of delicate dragonfly wings and awesome octopus intelligence—with buildings of wood and stone, ritual, and prayers. People who turn themselves to all the work that must happen, day in and day out, to make a haven of those walls, a safe place for all those whom God has gathered in.

The refuge in those verses, the haven built from their hearts—that is a church I can belong to.

God, I give thanks for your gentle care, for your wondrous love, for your sure hands in the storm. May I in turn offer that to others. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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