Let them give thanks to the LORD for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Ps. 107:8-9 I love preschoolers. They are so immediate, so in-the-moment, about everything. Every bug is the most enthralling thing they have ever seen, wiggly legs and twitching wings. They wonder at the squirrel in the yard. What is he doing? Where does he live? Where is his family? It is all endlessly fascinating. Likewise, if they are thirsty, it overwhelms them. Nothing in life is moderated, it all happens NOW! Hang out with these young ones and you may be given a gift. It is the gift of seeing the wonder of NOW, of delight in the music in the store, of light simmering off the hot pavement, of the scent of thunder on the wind. "Give thanks to the Lord for his mercy and the wonders he does for his children," and for the gift of living in the child's world of NOW. Stop and take note of what is happening NOW and give thanks. -Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
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- He put their feet on a straight path to go to a city where they might dwell. Ps. 107:7 One of the interesting arcs in Scripture is that while Genesis starts out in a garden, we do not return to a garden; at the end of the Revelation to John, we find ourselves in a city. Somewhere along the way, the work of humanity has been redeemed and transformed into a world where God is pleased to dwell. For our ancestors, nature was an untamed, wild, and dangerous place. For us it is often the city that is wild and dangerous, yet both are places where God is present. Both are places where God longs to be, both walking in the wilderness and dwelling in the city, and everything in between. It is the presence of God, the presence of Christ, the presence of Christ-in-us, that can bring light to the world in which we live, be it city or town or garden or wood or wild places, or the wild and dangerous places within us. God walks there, because you walk there. Christ with you and in you redeems the wild and dangerous places whether they are in your soul or in your world. Where are you and Christ journeying today? -Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
- They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits languished within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. Ps. 107:5-6 There are days I'm just tired, bone tired, too tired to think. Those days I work on auto pilot, going through the motions that I'm required to do to just get through the day. Sometimes all I need is to catch up on my sleep, but most of the time it's not so much a sleep issue as an issue of my spirit. If I pause and think about it, I've been living on the scraps of prayer, snippets here and there. My soul is starving for a deeper connection with God. I need to sit down to a real meal, to a tall glass of cool water, as it were. I need to take the time to be with God. It will take a while to balance my spiritual deficit, certainly more than one meal. It's odd though, whatever I can manage will be enough to carry me till the next time of prayer, and will also leave me wanting more. Like the "subtraction stew" in the children's story, The Phantom Tollbooth, this time with God leaves me both filled to the brim and hungry for more. Skip the spiritual fast food today. Sit down for a real meal. Whatever time you have is enough, if you give Christ your full attention. -Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
- He gathered them out of the lands; from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes; they found no way to a city where they might dwell. Ps. 107:3-4 "In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North" (Hymn 529- John Oxenham) When I lived in Tennessee, this became one of my favorite hymns. It helped me to remember that whatever our differences, in life, or culture, or experience, we are one in Christ. Both the hymn and the psalm remind us that we are all bound together in Christ. To echo the theme again there is "One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all" (Eph. 4:5), or as one of my friend often reminds me, we are stuck with each other, and that's a good thing. I need your perspective and passion for the things that I'm blind to, and you need mine. We both need the wisdom and compassion of the person in the next pew, and the church two towns over and in the next state, or another country, or even another time. So help me out. Tell me what you are thinking about. Share with me what Christ is teaching you, so that I can learn, too, and together we can grow in Christ and do the work God has given us to do. What are you learning? What new thing has Christ opened your eyes to? Who will you share it with? -Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
- Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his mercy endures forever. Let all those whom the LORD has redeemed proclaim that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe. Ps. 107:1-2 God is good, all the time, even when we doubt that there is a God, even when we doubt that God could be good, God is good. The Psalms repeat the phrase over and over again, God is good, and God's mercy endures forever. They say it when everything is going swimmingly, they repeat it when the whole world is arrayed against them, they say it when faced with death, and birth. God is good and God's mercy endures forever. They say it when their hearts are filled with joy or with tears streaming down their faces. They say it when one day blends into another, filled with the monotony of everyday tasks. God is good and God's mercy endures forever. It is the anchor that keeps them-and us-from being washed away, and the sure cord with which God binds us to God's self. God is good and God's mercy endures forever. Take some time today to ponder the statement that "God is good and God's mercy endures forever" in light of your life today. -Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
- "The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it" - Henri J. M. Nouwen "We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it." - Henri J. M. Nouwen
- The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his feet. Ps 85:12-13 I have a friend who lived in Palestine for almost two decades. When she relocated to the U.S., she was overwhelmed-not only by the changes in her home country, but by the choices. She would go to buy groceries and spend hours trying to decide which brand of bread to buy. We are often unaware of our abundance. Like fish in water, it is the environment in which we live. Indeed, we expect it. We anticipate that the market will be overflowing with produce, that the trees will give us shade, that the bees will go about their tasks, and the rabbits will nibble away at our gardens. All of this is a gift, a gift from the overflowing abundance of God. Take a look today at the water in which you live, the place where you live, the gifts of air and water, of light and dark, these are signs of God's love for you. -Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
- Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Ps 85:10,11 There is a famous fresco of Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, as they embrace. It's a different way of envisioning the Kingdom of God, of the time that we long for we when "Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide" (Isa. 11:9, The Message). It's a vision of what we long for, of what we hope for, of what we work for. It is that place where, even when we face the sometimes hard truths of our lives and our world, we know that God looks at us with mercy. It is a place where our actions are straight and true, bringing peace and wholeness to all those around us. It is part dream, part prayer. This image of the world can help us to take the next step toward it. Small as that step may be, a kind word, or a stand against deception, or a truthful word, is a step into the kingdom of God. What step will you take into the kingdom? -Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
- Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Ps 85:9 Proverbs reminds us that "the Fear of the Lord is that beginning of wisdom." It seems odd to talk about fearing the God who loves us with such a fierce and devoted passion. We think of fear as in the "cowering in fear and terror" kind of fear. There is an older definition of the word: it is closer to awe or wonder. It is the sense of standing before a power greater than we are, beyond us and above us. When we stand before God, it is important that we know the proper place of things. As intimately bound as we are to God, it is God's action that has caused us to be, God's love that has reached out to us, God's power that draws us to God. Knowing all of that, our only requirement is to respond in love and gratitude and wonder. How do you respond to God's invitation to you? -Linnae Peterson, M. Div.
- Show us your mercy, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him. Ps 85:7-8 Listening is a wonderful trait. Unfortunately it's a skill that I'm still learning. Most of the time, I find that I'm only half listening. The other half of my mind is wandering off trying to accomplish other things, composing what I'm going to say next or planning my errands or wondering what I'm going to cook for dinner, or rewriting the last project. I'm not really listening to what is going on right in front of me, and I'm not paying attention to who that person is. If I listen, if I tune into who is right in front of me, their tone of voice, their body language, the light in their eyes, maybe I could hear more of what they are saying. So, too, I need to listen to God with my whole being, to settle down the thousand and one thoughts and plans that distract me, and listen, so that I can hear the words of peace that God is offering to my restless, jumpy heart. Practice listening with your whole being today, even if it is only for 5 minutes. OK, how about 1 minute? That's about all I can manage at this point. -Linnae Peterson, M. Div.