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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, November 19, 2018

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)

Psalm 65 is a psalm of providence. The psalmist delineates all of the ways that humans rely on the goodness of God—God’s presence in the very life that is underfoot, overhead, arising from the earth, and in the intimacy of prayer. God’s impulse to provide and protect is providential, and providence is also the trust that allows us to lean into things that are tough, really tough.

I think providence shows up at many points in the history of our country. One of these points was in the early voyage of the pilgrims to the New World. The year was 1620. The destination was what we now know as New England. Many of those arriving were fleeing religious persecution. In making the voyage, they left behind the known life for a world that was completely unknown to them. They faced ultimate uncertainty: the harsh realities of disease, starvation, infant mortality, even lack of tools to till the soil. The trip across the Atlantic was anything but smooth. They were often at cross purposes with each other about their vision for the trek. So what sustained them? Their trust was in God’s providence, that God was leading them to a new place and that their voyage to the New World was in God’s providential plan. God would provide.

Certainly there are many narratives that help us understand more fully the cost and the consequences of what occurred in the early days of this country. But at the core of the pilgrim zeal was an unequivocal trust that God is faithful and was calling them to trust in God fully. So also for us. Never, ever give up on God. God’s providence is as real now as it was then.

To the farthest seas and the ends of the earth, your unwavering assurance awaits us, O God. Thank you. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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