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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, October 22, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 107:1–7, 33–37

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
he led them by a straight way,
until they reached an inhabited town.
He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry live,
and they establish a town to live in;
they sow fields, and plant vineyards,
and get a fruitful yield. (NRSV)

My reflection today may be a stretch, but think of this reading as a metaphor for what we are experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemic. I live alone in 850 square feet, and I’m over seventy; thus, I’m in that “vulnerable” population that is most threatened by this virus. We’ve been in a lockdown mode since March. And now I’ve learned to live and love Zoom. Zoom has become the “city where I’m settling.”

This psalm is about gathering, connecting, energizing, and growing. God is behind it all, acting “behind the scenes” by showing love, forgiveness, and stability. God’s steadfast love is something we hear about from our earliest age and exposure to the Judaic-Christian traditions. Rather than focus on the literal and physical meaning of the psalmist’s words, think about how you are gathering, connecting, energizing, and growing during this extended period of lockdown-ness. You may be feeling like the Israelites of 5,000 years ago. You feel like you are in exile. But are you?

No. You still have compassion for those in need; you still work on forgiving others who have hurt you; you still deal with the chaos of these times; you still seek learning and wisdom. This is a new conversation between the Word and our experiences. It applies anywhere, everywhere, at all times. It’s not about “self-sufficiency” but rather the ability to navigate difficulties (desert, wastelands, hunger, thirst) by depending upon God.

As we are created in God’s image, we humans find ways to make the connections we need to sustain us and help us grow. And right now, that’s on Zoom. Zoom is the “city where I’ve settled” and found many new possibilities. I just finished a five-day conference with 365 people in Europe. Would that have happened without Zoom? No. And now I have a new community in which to learn and play. Would this happen without God? No.

Dear Lord, help me remember that connections to other people come through you. Thank you for satisfying my daily needs and leading me to be compassionate about what others need. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Written by Maggie Shreve, Parish Associate for Jail Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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