Tag Archives: Psalms

November 15, 2015

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“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.”
Psalm 16:7 (NRSV)

God doesn’t go off duty at sundown. The psalmist understands from experience that praise and gratitude are present-moment activities regardless of time of day or circumstances. Counsel and change of heart appear. Something astonishing happens when I take this seriously.

The “nowness” at the center of this verse grabs my attention. I know counting blessings is a better sleep aid than counting sheep, but wakefulness isn’t my real concern when I am frightened or stuck on a problem large or small. I crave reassurance and counsel now.

For example, early in my career I was at odds with a coworker over a project we were assigned. I don’t remember the details of the disagreement, but a confrontation loomed the next day. I wanted to be ready for it and began rehearsing what I wanted to say. I still couldn’t get to sleep and began remembering other middle-of-the night conversations with God that transformed something I was stewing about into a blessing.

On this particular night God reminded me that my coworker and I were on the same side and I should start the conversation next day with that piece of information.

Why was I sure this came from God? The unexpectedness of it. Such a notion hadn’t been on my radar. In light of previous unpleasantness it would take a bit of courage. But I did it.

What happened? Letting my coworker know at once that I valued her abilities completely defused the confrontation and set the tone for getting the best work out of each other. There were a few bumps and disagreements along the way but we were delighted and proud of the results.

I call that one more blessing to count next time. And I have.

Prayer:
God of the present moment, we give thanks for your counsel and instruction of our hearts whatever the hour, but especially on a sleepless night. Amen

Question:
What current worry awaits God’s transformation?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com
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August 9, 2015

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“O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Psalms 34:8 (NRSV)

Tasting God? I need to get out of my head and into my senses to take that in.

God as food is a powerful and pointed metaphor. Here in the psalms is this command to taste, and throughout the Bible are found a multitude of suggestions of edible God. Edible goodness. Necessary nourishment. Life-sustaining meals in manna, magnificent feasts and more. Not to mention Jesus’ eternal offering of flesh and blood as bread and wine.

In her recent book Wearing God, writer, professor and priest Lauren Winner suggests that the Lord tastes like what I crave—what my body, spirit, soul need—at any given moment:

Cool, clean tap water quenching my thirst after a long walk.
Intimate soul sharing with my dear friend over coffee.
Buttered toast, satisfying in its crunchy, golden goodness.
Sweet, still silence as I sit steeping in centering prayer.
Many foods-on-a-stick for once-a-year indulgence at the Iowa State Fair.

My mouth is watering. I reflect on all that’s provided me, sustaining my health, well-being, and satisfied appetite. And I must conclude that the Lord is good.

Prayer:
Generous Provider, let me be grateful for the food on the table, the air I breathe, the abundance supporting my existence. Amen

Question:
What does the Lord taste like to me today?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

July 5, 2015

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Who owns the water?

God must smile as we quibble about who owns the streams and wetlands and who is responsible for keeping them clean for human consumption. Yet that is what is happening. Agricultural interests advocate for less governmental oversight and environmentalists push for more. Doesn’t the water belong to everyone? Or, more accurately, isn’t water on loan from a Creator who commands us to take care of it?

river by keencariene“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. For he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

We do all agree on the importance of keeping our rivers and other bodies of water clean. The disputes come as we discuss how to do that. What is the goal, exactly? What role does each of us play—governmental officials, farmers, urban residents, activists—in reaching that goal? How can we develop and implement a plan?

While it may appear trite to say, “Let’s all get along,” encouraging communication to reach common ground and mutual understanding is a good place to start. That would require less acrimony and partisanship and more listening and openness. The responsibility of caring for the earth rests with each of us.

Questions for Reflection:
How in tune am I with the wellbeing of the earth?
How does my faith inform my responsibility for addressing its need for protection?
How can I encourage honest and respectful conversation with people who believe differently from me?

Written by Diane Glass

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

June 21, 2015

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What Does Unity Look Like?

“We’re celebrating! Woo-hoo!” Peyton squeals. His younger brother Cohen runs and runs. Both boys skip and fling straw into the air. Peyton plops down, stretches his arms open wide and catches the straw as it falls. Cohen dumps it on his brother’s head. They roll and “bury” each other, then rise up and shout, “Pop goes the weasel!” Their giggles echo through the neighborhood.

Today’s verse says, “Look how good and pleasant it is when brothers [and sisters] live together in unity.” (Psalms 133:1, ISV.) These two little boys, my grandsons, paint a picture today of what wholesome unity looks like. Children as young as they are—age two and three years old—haven’t learned to hide their inner selves and their joy. What you see is truly what you get.

Of course, these brothers don’t always get along!! But when they do, I wonder if being true to who they are from the inside out contributes to their celebration of being alive together.

Unfortunately, adults do learn to hide their inner selves in public. We say the right things to the right people to get what we need or want. We bury our dark thoughts rather than confess them to God and another person we trust. The outer husks of our beings grow, and we bring dry, divided selves to our communities. We disintegrate individually and together. When that happens, our bond as brothers and sisters becomes rooted in peace-faking rather than peace-making.

Ultimately, peace-faking leads to forgetting who we are and who others are. Mother Teresa says, “Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Question:
How have I hidden myself from others today? How have I forgotten my brother or sister?

Prayer:
Open my heart, Father of all, to truly live with others in life-giving unity. Amen

Written by Deborah Jansen

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

February 1, 2015

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Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Psalms 111:2 NRSV

As soon as I read the word “studied” in today’s psalm, the following prayer, memorized in Sunday school, popped into my head.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our
learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly
digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed
hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior
Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Book of Common Prayer, page 236

“Hear, read, learn, mark and inwardly digest” came to mind without hesitation. I have always liked that image, but admit I needed to look up the final lines. Memorizing is out of style these days. Computers, phones and tablets make it convenient to look up something electronically I’ve read or heard about.

The psalmist didn’t have all these options. Study for him relied on careful listening and committing large chunks of Scripture to memory. Wisely he used praise to spark the imagination. In each line of Psalm 111 he recalls God’s wonders with delight and praise.

For me meditation has largely replaced memorization. I’m grateful for words from previous memory work. They continue to enrich my current understanding, but I spend less time getting the words verbatim and more praying and pondering what they call me to do or be.

Prayer:
Divine Teacher, help us to hear, read, learn, mark and inwardly digest Scriptures written for our benefit and your praise. Amen

Question:
What other Scripture passages will teach and delight me this week?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

December 28, 2014

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“Young men and women alike, old and young together!”
Psalms 148:12 (NRSV)

(This meditation was first published on December 29, 2013. It is reprinted today in memory of our friend, Ronda.)

How can we keep the special joy of the Christmas season alive all year? An answer surfaces during reflection on Psalm 148.

The psalm begins and ends with “Praise the Lord!” In between the psalmist calls all heavenly beings, features of the world, i.e., sun, stars, trees, mountains, wind, and every creature and human, to praise the Lord.

From my view joy flows from consciously praising God for his gifts and grace. Praise and joy do not depend on age, gender, looks, ability, economic status, special interests, or the weather. No matter what we face – familiar routines, challenges, surprises, adversities – pausing to offer praise creates joy.

Praise and its resulting joy take countless forms: lifting hands upward, humming a tune, dancing down the hall, stopping for solitude in nature’s beauty, smiling at a newcomer, sending words of appreciation to another, saying “Praise the Lord!” for goodness discovered in all tasks or encounters.

Physician and clown Patch Adams believes being joyful is the most radical thing we can do. Want to join a joy revolution? Praise the Lord!

Prayer:
God of Ever-Present Joy, no matter what our stage of life or circumstances, we praise You, the source of all blessings. Amen

Question:
In what ways does joy fill my heart today?

Written by Ronda Armstrong

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

November 2, 2014

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“Say thank you to the Lord for being so good, for always being so loving and kind.”
Psalm 107:1 (TLB)

Yesterday we flipped the calendar to November, the month when many gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Along with the foundation for celebration: gratefully praising our Creator for abundant blessings, the holiday features cherished traditions for food, fun, and fellowship.

Almost forty years ago, when I was new in Iowa, new at my job, away from family, and recovering after serious surgery, a couple I met graciously invited me to Thanksgiving dinner. Though I could eat little, that year I discovered gratefulness meant more than thanking the Lord.

God’s blessings also grace our lives through the loving and kind acts of others. Recognizing them, and saying thanks, further extends the circle of gratitude.

Inspiration from the ways others have blessed us leads to reflection about how we bless others. When we share the grace and goodness we have received, we bring the power of gratitude full circle.

Some have energy and skill to spearhead financial charity drives, repair houses, or beautify city parks. Others choose to brighten another’s day by sharing smiles, visiting a lonely neighbor, cooking meals for shut ins, giving a favorite book, or jotting caring notes to send.

Based on environments and abilities, all life stages offer creative opportunities to bless others. Responses change over time, as our needs and capabilities do, and we adapt to God’s ongoing plan for us.

Prayer:
God of Goodness, inspire us to be cheerful givers, following your example to share our blessings in loving and kind ways. Amen

Question:
How am I called to bless others today?

Written by Ronda Armstrong

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com