A Devotion for Thursday, April 23, 2020
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 (NRSV)
1 I love the Lord,
because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
`in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord,
`in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
A Saint Sighting
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”
The psalmist rejoiced in God’s delivery through rough times (v.8). The psalm writer moved from tribulation to adulation and invited all to praise God (v. 19). The faith expressed in this psalm reminds me of someone. Throughout her ninety-seven years, she praised God despite challenges. A broken femur, a broken pelvis, broken ribs, and a broken hip slowed down her body, but not her spirit. “If you know your Got, that is all you need,” she often said, regardless of her circumstances.
A few months ago, she entered God’s eternal glory. She loved her God, her family, her friends of all ages, and her church. I know these things are true because she was my precious Mama “Wease.” As my family and I continue on our journey of grieving and celebrating her life, we take great comfort in the psalmist’s words: “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”
Prayer: Comforting God, help me to celebrate and support my loved ones each day. Amen.
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
Isaiah 25:1-9 (NRSV)
1 O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name;
for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm,
5 the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place,
you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds;
the song of the ruthless was stilled.
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food,
a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow,
of well-aged wines strained clear.
7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God;
we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
“He will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations.” As I read these words I can’t help but think of the “shroud” that hangs over our world, over its peoples, of the “sheet that is spread over all nations” these days. And as the days, and weeks, go by, with no certain future ahead from the political or scientific communities, we grow more anxious, we worry more about what is next – will it get better soon, or is there a second, more deadly wave yet to come – and our pets are wondering why we are spending so much time in their house (needed a little humor!). It can be hard to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.”
But Isaiah reminds us, from a place of death and pain and suffering, that God “will wipe away the tears from all faces;” that “he will swallow up death forever” (a promise that is realized through Jesus’ death and resurrection); that “the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, feast of well-aged wines” (in other words, there will be a big party!).
In God there is hope, no matter how bleak or uncertain or painful the present and foreseeable future might be. Wait on the Lord. That is what Isaiah commends to us. For God will save, and we will again be glad, and rejoice – in His salvation.
Hymn for Reflection:
“A Mighty Fortress is our God” (ELW #504)
A mighty fortress is our God, a sword and shield victorious;
He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod and wins salvation glorious.
The old satanic foe has sworn to work us woe!
With craft and dreadful might, he arms himself to fight.
On earth he has no equal.
No strength of ours can match his might! We would be lost, rejected.
But now a champion comes to fight, whom God himself elected.
You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is he!
Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son adored.
He holds the field victorious.
Though hordes of devils fill the land all threat’ning to devour us.
We tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpow’r us.
Let this world’s tyrant rage; in battle we’ll engage!
His might is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.
God’s word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes, who fear it;
For God himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.
Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse,
Though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day.
The kingdom’s ours forever!
“To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”
– Jude 1:1b-2 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,
Want to do something positive in this uncertain, anxious time?
Write an encouraging card, note or letter
for one of our shut-ins (Ken Bechtler, Myrtle Danielson, Helen Randall and Barb Morphew) which can be brought to church for delivery (place in the basket in the breezeway).
Or, make some cheerful, simple artwork –
for others and for yourself – that can be put in a window to cheer you up, and those who may see it in your neighborhood.
Do you Quilt?
How about making Masks out of quilting fabric? It’s supposed to be one of the best fabrics to use, and there are patterns online to make them.
Write a Devotion
to post here and share with others, something encouraging or inspirational.
For those affected in any way by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For our congregation in this time of separation, that we would yet be held together.
What about a Sign Campaign?
Would we want to make simple roadside signs – from the people of Messiah – indicating prayers and support for medical, food, pharmacy, and other essential service workers (especially “on the front lines”)? What do you think? Could be a visible way of “sharing the love of Christ” in this time.
Have another idea? Let me know, and I will share it here!