Friday, December 5, 2013 — Week of Advent 1, Year One
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 16, 17 (morning) // 22 (evening)
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Last night was a great night. My two-year-old son has just discovered how to make funny noises with his mouth. At dinnertime, he found himself so funny that when he tried to keep making these noises, he was laughing too hard to get his lips in the right position. Watching our son be undone by his own laughter made my husband and me laugh too, which made our son laugh even harder. (Our five-month-old daughter kept a straight and befuddled face the whole time, which was hilarious in and of itself.)
You probably had to be there.
If I hadn’t calmed down last night, the last few verses of Psalm 17 sure sobered me up this morning. The Psalmist asks for deliverance not only from “the wicked” or from “deadly enemies,” but from people like me: “Deliver me, O Lord . . . from those whose portion in life is this world.”
Those who have their portion in this world are not just the exorbitantly wealthy, but those who have even middle-class dreams. Those whose portion in life can be found here and now are the ones “Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, who are well supplied with children and leave their wealth to their little ones.” That probably describes me at dinner last night: I had a full belly, I had two children, and I had hope for their future. In the scheme of things, I had a very hefty portion on my plate.
The Psalm this morning keeps even our modest comforts in perspective. Even when we have things in our lives that bring us great joy, is that the only portion we aspire to? The Psalmist has a different prize in mind: “at my vindication I shall see your face; when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.” The only portion that can satisfy him will be an encounter with the divine.
Whether we find ourselves comfortably full and in happy families, or surrounded by enemies, or simply dissatisfied with our portion in this life, the Psalm this morning reminds us that our relationship with God is the only thing that can satisfy us. Instead of striving or longing for a bigger portion of this life, we can seek the kind of closeness to God that the Psalmists have, in good times or in the worst times. There’s nothing better.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.