Advent devotion – December 16, 2009

Scripture – Psalm 50

On my bluer days I find it hard to balance two things to which I feel called—honestly and actively working to care for God’s creation, and unreservedly celebrating its beauty. It is hard not to temper my delight in a flaming sunset with gloom at the pollution that inevitably contributes to its vivid colors. It is equally tempting to err on the other side: to be comforted into complacency.

Psalm 50 is primarily about God’s judgment of the righteous and wicked and dissatisfaction with their ritual sacrifices. It is interesting to note, though, that the psalm begins with celebration, that God “shines forth” from “Zion, the perfection of beauty.” The psalmist sings of beauty and God’s retributive destruction of the wicked in the same song. To celebrate the world’s beauty is not to deny its misery. Hope doesn’t deny the existence of cruelty any more than light denies the existence of darkness.

Actions mattered in the psalmist’s time as well—indeed, God reminds us in the psalm to “go the right way.” The main thing that God asks for, though, is “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” It is good to be reminded that gratitude is a part of faithfulness and that paying attention to beauty is a part of paying attention to God.

Creator of all that is, be among us, within us, and through us. Give us strength to do your work, and wisdom and awareness to celebrate the beauty of your creation. Amen.

David LaMotte
Rotary World Peace Fellow
Vijayawada, India

Order Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace.

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