One of my favorite daily prayer routines is to listen to “Pray as you go” – a short meditation available on the internet or as a mobile app that includes scripture, music, and questions for reflection. Recently they featured a Psalm of praise, Psalm 149, which begins with these words:
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker.
“Pray as you go” suggested these questions:
· “What makes you grateful for the gift of life?
· How does your life reflect the generosity of God who has given you life?”
I encourage you to take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself. How do you live a life of gratitude?
Then, I wonder if you would do what I did, and ask the same questions of our particular congregation:
· What makes you grateful for the gift of life (past, present, and future) as part of the community of faith at Edmonds Presbyterian Church?
· How does our congregation’s life reflect the generosity of God who has given us life?
In November we will be celebrating the history and ministry of this congregation with a special 10AM worship service, followed by a potluck lunch and presentations. I encourage you to put Sunday, November 12th on your calendar and plan on attending. More information will be mailed and emailed in the coming weeks. There will even be a reunion choir for all who are singing or have sung in the choir. I hope you can attend. And when you attend, consider bringing with you a phrase, a memory, or a scripture that symbolizes what you thank God for when you pray for this congregation. All this talk of gratefulness reminds me of these words from the beginning of Psalm 9:
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Let us give thanks to God for the gift of life,
and in September I wrote:
Do you remember leaving home for the first time? This past week we packed up Jacob and dropped him off for his first year of college. As we were driving south I suddenly had a clear memory of the drive with my parents as they drove me to my first home-away-from-home at college. I was sitting in the back seat, just like Jacob. I had mounds of boxes and clothes beside me, just like Jacob. And I had no clue what I was doing – maybe that isn’t just like Jacob. He has a better idea of what he would like out of college than I did at that time!
Leaving the familiar is hard. We learn that when we leave home as a young adult for college, the military, work, health or family changes. We do that to a lesser extent when we travel. A good friend on her first trip to England told me of her desperate search for ice for her soda. Sometimes it’s the small things that we miss the most, the things that make us feel “at home.”
This summer we have heard several short stories from the life of the biblical Jacob, whom God later named Israel. This Jacob knew what it was like to move away from the familiar to a foreign land. He knew what it was like to be tricked by those he trusted. He knew that he was not a perfect person (his nickname was ‘the trickster’) yet God used him and his family to build a great nation. One of my favorite stories of the life of Jacob is his homecoming, the day he returns to the place that will later be known as the land of Israel. This account is found in Genesis 33. Jacob is nervous about his return, and rightly so. He had tricked his brother, Esau, out of their father’s inheritance. Jacob comes bearing gifts to his brother, and speaks with humility (a rarity for him.) Jacob says in verse 11, “ Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.” And then when Esau, his brother, urges him to move quickly, Jacob declines to do so for he knows that a fast pace will be too hard on the animals he has with him, and on his young children. Instead he says to Esau in verse 14, “ Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children.”
When we are in the midst of change and transition, we may be tempted to move quickly, but Jacob knew better. He knew that for his whole family to make this change successfully, they needed to move at the “pace of the children.”
What are the changes you are experiencing in your life? What is the new thing God is calling you to consider and possibly to do? What transitions are you entering into, moving through, or recently completed? What are you learning? How was/is God there in the midst of the messiness for you? King David wrote songs to God, Psalms, when he was facing his enemies, when change was coming for him and he cried out to God for help. In Psalm 143 we read his words, “Hear my prayer, O Lord;…8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Through all our transitions, may God teach us the way we should go. And may the transitions we face bring us closer to God in whom we trust.