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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 10, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 85:8–13

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
   for he will speak peace to his people,
   to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
   righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
   and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
   and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
   and will make a path for his steps. (NRSV)

I seldom hear anyone use the word righteousness in their everyday vocabulary. I certainly do not say it very often! It is one of those “churchy” words, like exegesis or narthex, that we might hear on Sunday morning but almost nowhere else. If I hear it at all outside of church, it may be used as a put-down with dripping sarcasm, like when someone says, “He thinks he is so righteous.”

The word loses a lot of its actual power and meaning simply because we are not that familiar with it. Yet there it is at the end of Psalm 85: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Righteousness will go before him and will make a path for his steps.”

Perhaps we are left wondering what is righteous and what it means that righteousness will go before him? The Oxford Dictionary says righteousness is the quality of being morally right or justifiable, but for me that just raises more questions. What is morally right or justifiable these days?

When there is steadfast love—as John Lewis said, “love put into action”—love that doesn’t see gender, skin color, sexual orientation, or anything else that divides us but only sees a child of God, love that does not end even in death, then we begin to know what is righteous, what is moral and justifiable. When there is faithfulness, faith that eventually all shall be well no matter what we must endure, faith that God is in control and not us, faith that someday things will get better for all of us together, then we know what righteousness really is and agree that this is the path we must be on. No other path but love and faith can lead us toward a better tomorrow and into the everlasting arms of our God.

Loving God, help me be filled with love and faith so that I may see your face in the face of all I see. Amen.

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

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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