Thursday, October 20
Deacon Gary Gannon
These days my theological compass seems to be pointing frequently to writings in the Old Testament (OT). I am also presently immersed in the wonder of engaging with several parish members in a weekly face-to-face gathering for Morning Prayer on Wednesdays. Thus, when I looked at the lectionary for October 20, I reflected on Psalm 37: 1-8, part of that morning’s prayer liturgy.
It is said that the psalms make public much of the inner life of the community of early Israel – some being communal acts of praise or petition, others intended to reveal personal pain, fears, delights and hopes. It has also been said that the psalms, some written as early as 1000 BCE, present a rich cross section of speech to and about God – and perhaps most importantly reflect the conviction that God is one to whom all can speak. This OT wisdom book can provide us with a context for both understanding and faithfulness.
My suggestion to you is that you open your Bible to this reading and go over the verses a few times. Psalm 37 has been titled an exhortation or call to patience and trust. These are two important virtues that are challenging to many in today’s world. The verses also display a counterpoint between those who are wrongdoers and others who trust and take delight in God. I encourage you to consider what particular word or phrase catches your attention? What is God saying to you about what is currently going on in your life, or in the world around you?
What strikes me about this passage is that it offers some refreshing advice to counter the personal or communal challenges one may face in these turbulent times of fear, anger and uncertainty. You and I are encouraged not to fret or be envious. You and I are invited to trust and delight in God. We are called on to commit ourselves to the LORD and trust in Him. Keeping in mind the portion of this psalm is included as part of morning prayer, you and I are also encouraged to be still before God and to wait for him.
Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Wil Gafney offers important advice to us when reading and reflecting on Psalm 37. She writes, “It is important to remember that this psalm is a devotional text, reflecting on the world through the eyes of faith. It is not a formula for how to get what you want out of life. Psalm 37 is an inspirational psalm whose simple message is that faithfulness will yield the rewards of a life well-lived.”
Let us today and the next, trust and commit ourselves to a life of faith in God.
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith,
that forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to what is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
From: The Book of Alternative Services. The Anglican Church of Canada. p. 387.