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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, August 23, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 103:1–8   

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (NRSV)

Bless the Lord! Praise. Honor. Worship. Glorify. Adore. Exalt. Thank. Venerate. Reverence. Hallow. Magnify. All words for blessing the Lord. Anne LaMott wrote in her book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers that “the words ‘wow’ and ‘awe’ are the same height and width, all w’s and short vowels. They could dance together.”To wonder in God’s breathtaking beauty, abundant generosity, and steadfast love—to express wow in amazement—is to bless God. It is the opposite of ho-hum, so what, and taking God for granted.

Mary Oliver, in her poem “I Happened to Be Standing,” reflects, “I happened to be standing just outside my door, with my notebook open, which is the way I begin every morning. Then a wren in the privet began to sing. He was positively drenched in enthusiasm, I don’t know why. And yet, why not. . . . I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be if it isn’t a prayer?”

The root of the word enthusiasm is “en theos”—in God. To engage life fully and joyfully is to praise the Divine beyond us with the Divine within us. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Yes, God, yes! My heart is bursting with praise to you.
Every fiber of my being dances with you, rejoicing!
You forgive me, again and again, so I may start afresh.
You open my fists and relax my jaw so I let go of annoyances and resentments.
You heal me from disappointments and wounds.
You open my eyes in wonder and my heart in thanksgiving.
You embrace me with abiding love.
All my days you shower upon me your abundant delight in who I am,
so that my spirit sings, constantly renewed and made young.
Wow. Thank you. My soul blesses you! Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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