Pondering for Monday, August 23, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 16: Year 1

Morning, Psalms 1, 2 and 3; Evening, Psalms 4 and 7;
1st  Kings 1:5 to 31Acts 26:1 to 23Mark 13:14to 27

“Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!” (Psalm 1:1)

Our Daily Office Lectionary starts the Psalm readings over again.  We cycle through them several times throughout the year. It pleases me that the first word of the first Psalm is “Happy.”  It is a good way to start anything.

In this particular verse the Psalmist is commending those of us who can recognize unpleasant company and politely avoid them.  The outcome is happiness. It is overall happiness.  We will all have bad days, it’s just part of life.  But we shouldn’t make it worse by staying in the company of negative minded persons who are always looking for antisocial ways of relating to others. Part of being happy is assisting others in being happy as well.

Some of the Psalms are revengeful and harsh, at least for me. I don’t do well with asking God to wreak havoc on those whom I think have done me, or others, wrong. If they are sinful, God knows and in God’s own way, they will be corrected or adjusted. 

In our Acts reading for today Paul recounts being corrected and adjusted as he was going to Damascus.  In our Mark Gospel Reading Jesus informs us that had not God cut short the dreadful day of the coming of the Lord, no one would be spared. But God saved those that God chose.  I personally don’t like the word “elect.”  It kind of seems like some of us are better than others. God loves us all. This kind of “culling” process is present in biblical language in several places in scripture. It is suggested in the Flood language with Noah and his family on the ark.  It is used to save Lot from Sodom. God seems to favor the people who choose to be happy rather than let themselves be dragged into the company of wickedness, sin and scornfulness.  

I don’t initially avoid people I find unpleasant.  I try to get them to see and think about an alternative way of seeing the world. I try to get them to consider an “out-of-control” God.  I say this because when I mention bringing God into their lives, too many people already have an idea about what God would say or do. The key to happiness is not “knowing” God, but rather, “trusting” God.  Once we make an out-of-control, but loving God a part of our relationship with others, we are well on our way to being happy.  In this way we will cease walking in the counsel of the wicked, and lingering in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seats of the scornful. We will just be happy trusting in God.

Let us live to love, serve and teach, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying through the saints and to us, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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