This psalm splendidly captures the sense of gratitude and
wonder we feel as we move through this joyous season. It
also underscores the providential care in the form of sunshine
and rain that makes possible the bounty of spring.
I take issue with the notion that God would “hide his face”
and “take away his breath” thereby causing hardship and difficulties.
That makes God seem too capricious, arbitrary, and
even whimsical. However, the psalmist stresses our dependency
and all creation’s dependency upon the self-giving care of the
Creator. Life certainly presents challenges: We get sick, relationships
end, financial problems present themselves, and family
members and close friends die. During those times, being part
of a church community of love and friendship creates a balm of
comfort and healing.
The church came into being seven weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion.
The Holy Spirit inspired Jesus’ followers at this point
and provided the spiritual strength for them to go forward
following the devastating loss of their leader on the cross. The
disciples and their successors surmounted many obstacles in
the first three hundred years after Jesus’ death: the destruction
of Jerusalem, persecution by the Roman Empire, and struggles
Nearly two thousand years later we can join in the psalmist’s
celebration of the divine glory, “O Lord, how manifold are
your works! In wisdom you have made them all.” The Spirit
breathed new life into the disciples just as God breathed life
into creation. The church helps us appreciate those works and
the wisdom of the Creator. Today we celebrate the manifold
works of God and all those who make church possible for us.
Gracious God, we give thanks for the many ways creation bears witness to your Spirit. Amen.
The foundation of the Pentecost festival is that series of events recorded in Acts 2, a decisive proclamation that links new life in Christ to the activity of the Spirit of God. At the heart of the church’s new life is its experience of the crucified, risen Lord, a reality also recalled in the John 7 reading. Psalm 104 celebrates the power of God in endowing the heavens and the earth with life, an endowment that is linked to the work of God’s Spirit. First Corinthians points the reader to the reality that the gift of life, having once been made, remains with the Spirit-led person in the form of a heart reoriented to new and marvelous deeds of witness.
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. God’s gift of Spirit animates the life and well-being of creation. Today, breathe in God’s Spirit; breathe out God’s praise.
• Read Acts 2:1-21. The church is the Holy Spirit’s creation to continue Jesus’ mission. What part are you playing in the ongoing drama of ministry and mission to the world?
• Read 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13. The writer asserts that “every day, people of diverse gifts . . . model by their example how the Christian life is to be lived.” How do you express your valuing of those who differ in worship style, theology, or doctrine?
• Read John 20:19-23. The writer says that Jesus’ call to his followers “is no easy assignment; it is not without peril.” How has being a Jesus-follower been difficult for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
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