Dear Christ Church Family,
As our time of sequestering and social distancing drags on, it is difficult to keep from being discouraged by the loss of all the “normal” simple joys of gathering and being together with those we love. Our very first reading for today, Psalm 1, offers us encouragement this morning. It reminds us that the source of our joy, of life itself, is still with us. We have only to keep drinking it in.
Monday, April 20, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
Psalm 1: A major theme of the whole book. The main theme of the very first Psalm sets a major theme for the whole book of Psalms. In a nutshell it says, “Those who take delight in the Lord, and follow his path, will live a blessed life. Those who don’t, won’t!” It’s a pretty basic message. Some would even call it simplistic. Undeterred by such criticism, the Psalmists will return to this theme again and again throughout this entire collection of prayers, praises, and penitential pleas. Whatever our state in life, for the Psalmists, it all comes down to this understanding: the wicked may prosper for a time, but the faithful will triumph for all time.
A picture of the blessed faithful is drawn in verse 3,
“They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
Which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.”
Whenever I have read this Psalm, I have found myself remembering the wild trees of the San Joaquin Valley where I grew up. Out in the more remote and still undeveloped portions of the Valley, you can see the long and wide expanse of nearly flat empty grassland that runs on almost endlessly. It’s the same look and feel as the Midwest. Well, the same, that is, until you suddenly hit the mountain ranges that surround the Valley.
That flatness, though, gives rise to a visual reminder of Psalm 1. For, from even as far as 50 or more miles away, you can tell where the rivers run. The “tell” is the presence of trees, usually forming a long, thin, meandering line of green in the midst of an otherwise empty, golden brown landscape. Unlike their cultivated orchard cousins in the developed parts of the Valley, who suffer when there is a drought and irrigation water must be rationed, these trees keep going and growing in all seasons. “Their leaves do not wither” because their roots run deep into the source of their life: the river and streams that feed them.
In this understanding, you and I are the trees, and God is our life source. If we will be faithful to keep our roots sunk deep into our faith, keeping steady in our prayers, reading and reflecting on God’s word to us in Scripture, putting our trust in Jesus to guide us, and worshiping the One who is our true life-source, then we will be trees that do not perish. Even more than how we will survive will be this additional truth. Like those trees along the riverbanks in the Valley, we will be the “tell” for others who are searching for the Source of Life as well.