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Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Our longing for God may at times find expression in a thirsting for holy and personal encounter. God’s steadfast love promises that such yearning will be satisfied. Our lives continually move between those hopes of encounter and their fulfillment by God. At beginning of day and at its end, our seeking of God is met by God’s seeking of us. Psalm 63:1–8 Psalm 63 cannot be boxed into a single category of psalm. Its stanzas have elements of lament, thanksgiving, trust, and praise blended together. At the core of this psalm is the understanding that life relies on God’s presence. The seeking of God’s presence opens the psalm. Verse 8 affirms the psalmist’s “clinging” to that presence, confessing God to be One who upholds. Psalm 63 provides subtle hints at how relationship with God intends to encompass the whole of our lives. There is, first, the pairing of thirsting and feasting. The experiences appear opposite, yet both provide settings for the psalmist – and for us – to find encounter with God. There is also in the reading language of morning and evening. Evening is explicit in verse 6. Morning comes more hidden in verse 1, where the verb translated as “seek” (shachar) can mean seek “early” or “in the morning.” At day’s beginning as at its end, we rely on God. Note the pronouns of address used all the way through this psalm: “I” and “you.” They remind the community of the intensely personal and relational nature of encounter with God. The social implications of this passage do not appear until the omitted verses (9–11). There, the tone shifts from an expression of vengeance to rejoicing in God. Psalm 63 invites us to practices of prayer and spiritual formation. What makes up the “seeking” of the psalm’s opening verse is clarified in the verbs of verse 6. “Think of you” (zakar, literally “remember” or “imprint”) and “meditate on you.” These disciplines grow out of encounter with the God who “satisfies” the thirst for relationship. The psalmist urges time spent nourishing the spirit (“soul”) with such devotional practices. One common theme in today’s readings is life lived in “interim” times. The psalm’s image of being satisfied by God is present in the readings from Isaiah and Paul. Isaiah 55:1–9 speaks of a feast made possible by God’s grace (“without price”). 1 Corinthians 10:1–13 remembers God’s gift of manna and water to the people of Israel in the wilderness. Both passages celebrate God’s faithfulness to provide what is needed for life. Yet our times often consist of hopeful waiting. Such waiting, whether for the experience of “satisfying” affirmed earlier or a clear sense of God’s purposes in trying circumstances, can make faith difficult. Luke 13:1–9 relates two situations that might be taken to suggest God’s absence. Those experiences are followed by Jesus’ parable of the fig tree. The parable focuses on patient waiting joined with hopeful action. Parables themselves are a form of teaching that requires patient reflection to open oneself to their meanings. In the Corinthians text, Paul’s language of testing suggests interim times that bring a call to live faithfully even while we trust in God’s faithfulness. All of our readings build upon the core affirmation of Psalm 63 – our lives find their source and hope in God. As individuals and communities of faith, we are to seek God’s presence as those whose lives depend upon that presence. In what ways have you thirsted for God on your faith journey? What does this psalm inspire you to do this next week to feed your relationship with God?


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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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