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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 15, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 30:9–14      

And the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. (NRSV)

The words we read in today’s passage from Deuteronomy were some of the final thoughts from Moses after he had led the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. But now their leader, quite old, was lying on his death bed and trying to encourage his followers with inspirational words, saying, “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings.”

Those followers must have had a hard time believing those words coming from a dying man who was about to leave them, but other leaders with faith and conviction have said similar words. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He was paraphrasing another inspirational leader, the abolitionist Theodore Parker, who said in an 1853 sermon, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one.”

Moses, Martin Luther King Jr., Theodore Parker were all people who could see their active part working towards a larger and far-off goal. But to achieve that far-off goal, they had to activate others to work toward it as well. They had to get their followers to define it, to actively seek it, and to do the challenging work of bending the arc towards justice, because it won’t bend on its on without us. It is up to each one of us to be active participants in bending the arc of the moral universe.

All-powerful and all-knowing God, help me to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you and all whom I meet today. Help me be a part of bending and building the arc toward a moral universe today. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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