JMPC Lenten devotional for March 20, 2020

Messages of Hope

JMPC Lenten Devotional

March 20, 2020

One of the things I find remarkable about the Psalms is that they speak to situations each of us has from time to time experienced. We have all experienced anxiety and grief and thankfulness and awe and anger and hope. All these things are found in the words of the Psalmist. And one thing that is important to remember, all the words are directed to God. Like the Psalmist, we are free to express what we are feeling about our world and about God – to God. That is what Jesus did. He quoted the Psalms often, even while he hung on the cross. So, I encourage each of you to pull out the Psalms and read them every day while we are apart and feel God’s presence beside you as you pray them to God.

Today I want to offer a Psalm that I find comforting.

Psalm 8

To the leader: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
2   Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
   to silence the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
   mortals that you care for them?

5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
   and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
   you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I still remember the spring break of my sophomore year at Allegheny College. Three of my friends and I went to my grandparents’ cottage on Edinboro Lake. For an entire week we had no responsibility. No to-do list. No homework. The sense of freedom was powerful. Then one night, we were sitting on the shore of the lake and my friend Flash looked up and cried out, “Look, the Northern Lights!” It is rare that the Northern Lights are visible this far south. They are not as colorful, but they are spectacular. They look like heavenly fireworks. Streaks of light flash across the sky. Swirls of light pinwheel over the horizon. Waves of light wash over the darkness. Explosions of light take your breath away. We lay down on the grass and watched the show until the sun came up. Why not, we had nothing better to do. In fact, that night, there could be nothing better to do.

While I did not know it at the time, I was experiencing what the Psalmist experienced. I was overwhelmed. I looked at the heavens and marveled at all God had made and I felt – not small – but comforted. Who was I that God who made the universe, would make me? Am I as amazing as the universe? I am certainly part of it. Then, after contemplating this Psalm, something occurred to me. Maybe I was created to see the universe. Maybe God got done with creation and then made humanity in God’s image so that we could see what God had created. Without anyone to see it, does it even exist?

So, what is the point here? While we all are sheltering in place, instead of wringing our hands and worrying about the things we cannot do, or how this will all end, why not take a look around and see what is nearby. Enjoy what is right there. It is part of creation. And it is all amazing.

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