The children’s story from church remained vivid in the minds
of her three-year-old triplet sons as a mother from my congregation
wrestled them into their pajamas one Sunday night.
“I’m Jonah!” crowed Will proudly. “I’m the big fish!” piped up
Connor in response, puffing out his cheeks and spreading his
arms wide. Jack’s shoulders slumped, and a crestfallen look
overtook his face as he sighed sadly, “I guess I have to be God.”
In the story as Jack heard it, Jonah was a superhero. The big
fish was . . . well, a big fish. And God operated as a disembodied
voice behind the scenes with a bit part.
Our psalm today tells us that Jack got it wrong. Its verses
celebrate the constant provision and presence, protection and
promise of God. God watches over vulnerable widows and
orphans, gives homes to the desolate, leads prisoners to prosperity,
and provides for the needy.
When our ancestors in the faith spent forty years in the Sinai
wilderness on their journey out of slavery toward the Promised
Land, God showered them with quail and manna, reminding
them of the steadfastness of divine love and care. They were
being handed a lesson in how to live justly and generously with
one another, trusting God’s provision.
When God seems absent, we’re tempted to fill emptiness
with the accumulation of possessions; when we fear the uncertainty
that lies ahead, we need the assurance of the psalmist’s
words. The God who guided our ancestors to freedom as a
pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night—who made
the astounding choice to take on flesh and enter into the world
with all its pain and joy in the person of Jesus Christ—is active
among us still. The Holy Spirit is ever present, hovering close—
beckoning us to live justly and generously as well, trusting in
Loving God, help me trust in your care and provision. Always. Amen.
The entire Easter season focuses on the new governance that breaks the grip of all that is old, tired, deathly, and enslaving. The psalm shows the church using the ancient language of enthronement. Now it is Jesus through whom the drama of God’s power is brought to fruition. In Acts, the community accepts the new governance as a bold witness in the world, sustained by a disciplined life of prayer. The epistle reading addresses people who are in the midst of suffering, hurt, and need. They are enjoined to powerful hope for the time of God’s eventual and full triumph. The Gospel portrays the church under the power of God’s resolve, being given a wholly new identity and vocation in the world.
• Read Acts 1:6-14. Having received the power of the Holy Spirit, how is your life unfolding?
• Read Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35. When have you sensed God’s absence? How did you attempt to fill that void?
• Read 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11.When has God restored you?
• Read John 17:1-11. Where do you see Jesus as you go about your daily life?
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