Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 1, 2, 3; PM Psalm 4, 7 Isa. 40:12-23; Eph. 1:1-14; Mark 1:1-13
Psalm 1: 1 Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
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.
Two key points are made in this foundational psalm:
- delighting in the law of the Lord (for the Israelites that is the Torah and for Christians, all of scripture and creation – the Word made flesh) by meditating on it day and night
- and by doing so the by- product is fruitfulness, the leaf will never wither and bear fruit in season and all one does will prosper
To illustrate the points a priest brought to the pulpit one Sunday two plants. One had been put in a closet in the dark and brought out once a week to be fed. The other lived in the light and was fed daily. He likened the plant in the closet to believers who lived in their world Monday through Saturday, coming to church on Sunday to be fed with the Word. The plant left out in the light was like believers who lived in the Word every day, meditating upon it day and night in some fashion, living in the light, not the dark.
Presenting the two plants to the congregation: one withered, alive but barely, leaves drooping downward, new shoots hard to see; the other vibrant, sprouting new branches, leaves turned upward as arms outstretched. The priest asked the parishioners, “Which would you rather be; which are you?”
Now he knew his people and saw in each of them either the withered non-fruit bearing-desperate-for-water plant or the alive and well-fed ones.
Of the former they were parishioners who showed up on Sunday seeking food, seeking water, seeking the Word, edification, inspiration, something that would help them get through the week – as if that would be enough. Worship on Sunday was about them and the church had better deliver something – see their need for water, their need for the Word. Worship was about them.
Then there were the other plants of his congregation who like the vibrant plant were living life with Jesus 24-7-365 and not coming and going in and out of the light as the plant that was put in and out of the closet. On a daily basis these believers were fed God’s Word, meditating upon it, beginning or ending their day with it. Coming to church on Sunday wasn’t about coming out of the dark in desperate need for light and water. It wasn’t about them. Coming to church on Sunday was about Him and was their time to give thanks, to worship, to glorify Him.
As I wrap up my reflection this morning, the Spirit is leaving me with a couple of thoughts. First, I am grateful for the illustration given to me that encouraged me to continue meditating upon the Word. The illustration and teaching also affirmed what I’ve always believed about worship – especially once a week worship – that it is about one thing only, our abba Father – and not at all about me.