This part of Psalm 104 contains three petitions, all signifying the meaning of mature faith. The first is at once simple and profound. With the psalmist we acknowledge our deepest intentionality: that the glory of the Lord will endure not for a while but forever; that the grace of God will not be here today and gone tomorrow like a reed blowing in the wind but that it will last from the beginning to the end of time. Praise the Lord!
In the second petition, we ask God, despite our sinfulness, not to forsake the works of God’s hands that span the vastness of creation. Flawed though our vision may be, we cannot help but behold their beauty. Even in the face of natural wonderings ranging from volcanic eruptions and violent storms to lush rain forests and flowing streams, we acknowledge with joy that God’s providence prevails. Our main duty is not to lament our losses but to adore and praise God.
We ask thirdly that this meditation on the wonders of creation, complemented by the admission of our own smallness, be found pleasing to God. We can choose to grumble about life’s limits, but a better choice would be to rejoice in the Lord and trust that God’s ways are not our own. Our place is to pray that the good may prevail and the evil perish while knowing full well that final judgment is God’s alone to give. Our duty is not to label anyone as deserving of ultimate condemnation, for only God can read the secrets of a person’s heart. Our role is to defer to Divine Wisdom and say, “Bless the LORD, O my soul.”
Come, Holy Spirit, and teach us how to adopt the mind of God. Convert our hearts that we may turn from what is false and follow the path of truth. Put on our lips the words the psalmist uttered: "Praise the Lord!" Amen.
This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit
Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private? Or are you more inclined to move to take action in the public square without praying first? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?
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