A Reading from Psalm 103
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and forget not all his benefits.
3 He forgives all your sins *
and heals all your infirmities;
4 He redeems your life from the grave *
and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
5 He satisfies you with good things, *
and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
6 The LORD executes righteousness *
and judgment for all who are oppressed.
7 He made his ways known to Moses *
and his works to the children of Israel.
8 The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
9 He will not always accuse us, *
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, *
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, *
so far has he removed our sins from us.
13 As a father cares for his children, *
so does the LORD care for those who fear him.
14 For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
he remembers that we are but dust.
15 Our days are like the grass; *
we flourish like a flower of the field;
16 When the wind goes over it, it is gone, *
and its place shall know it no more.
17 But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever
on those who fear him, *
and his righteousness on children's children;
18 On those who keep his covenant *
and remember his commandments and do them.
19 The LORD has set his throne in heaven, *
and his kingship has dominion over all.
20 Bless the LORD, you angels of his,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, *
and hearken to the voice of his word.
21 Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, *
you ministers of his who do his will.
22 Bless the LORD, all you works of his,
in all places of his dominion; *
bless the LORD, O my soul.
I’ve recently been fascinated by the ways that our minds perceptions, habits, and even lifestyles are shifted and changed by small daily adjustments. Last year, I spent a great deal of time reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, in which she speaks often of (unsurprisingly) the power of divine love and its effects in our lives. Reflecting on my last year, I believe I see a shift in myself in more compassion toward others, in more patience in responding to frustrating situations, and in reading others with more generous understanding than before. It makes me excited for the coming year, and how else I might open myself to God’s transformation through repeated reading and prayer of sacred texts and commentaries on them.
Which brings me to today’s psalm. As the prayerbook of the Bible, the Psalter covers the whole span of human experience and emotion, leaning more heavily toward praise and focus on God and his work in the history of the world — and isn’t that perhaps, the healthiest focus a human might have? What might happen if we were to pray Psalm 103 for the next week, or even for the whole season of Epiphany? It addresses oppression and injustice, it highlights God’s deliverance as well as his mercy, it has an end-of-time focus and a refrain of blessing upon the Lord’s work and presence in our lives. How might we look at the world differently at the dawn of Lent, if this psalm were to be our companion in this midwinter season?
The Rev. Emily R. Hylden resides with her priest husband and three sons in Lafayette, Louisiana. Find her podcasting at Emily Rose Meditations.
Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Southern Ohio
The Diocese of Oru – The Church of Nigeria