There was a time in my younger days when I used to run ten-kilometer races. Never being a fast runner, I always wound up at the back of the race. In one race, a runner passed me wearing a t-shirt that bore the words: When the going gets rough, sprinters quit.
Psalm 147 affirms that God's word doesn't quit. God's word runs swiftly, says the psalm. For the Christian, two questions are basic to our religious quest: "Who is God?" and "Who are we?" To love God and our neighbor we have to be clear about our answers to these questions.
Psalm 147 emphasizes that God's very nature is to give gifts. Finest wheat, snow like wool, frost like ashes, hail like crumbs, the winds that blow, and the waters that flow—all are gifts from God's generous hand.
God's statutes and ordinances represent the most profound of these gifts, though. The commandments God gave to Israel, which Jesus summarizes as love of God and neighbor, are special gifts. They make us partners with God in making the world into the place God wants it to be.
We cannot contain God's word in any of the boxes we try to put it in. God's word is a living, breathing reality—not ours to possess but one that runs ahead of us. What an image! We have to run even to try to keep up with God's living word. This reality makes sense, though, since after two thousand years we've been unable to contain or even keep up with Jesus, God's living Word.
Thank you, God, for your many gifts, especially for your word that precedes me wherever I go. Amen.
These scriptures chosen to mark the new year give us a panorama of perspectives, from Ecclesiastes as a poetic musing on how life is measured out in seasons, to the vision in Revelation of what we commonly consider the end of time itself. Psalm 8 asks what the role is for humans in God’s magnificent creation. At the core of these scriptures is a strong sense of God’s presence and loving steadfastness in which we can rest.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13. In what season of life do you find yourself? What are you praying for in this season?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel when you read the psalmist’s words that God has created humans “a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5)?
Read Revelation 21:1-6a. How is the vision of a new heaven and new earth described here good news for you? What do you see God making new in the world around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.