All Saints Day (text from The Bible in 90 Days) 11/1/2009

They All Look to You

Lessons:     Isaiah 25:6-9 or Wisdom 3:1-9     Psalm 24:1-10, 22 (9)     Revelation 21:1-6a     St. John 11:32-44   Prayer of the Day     Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for hose who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Text from "The Bible in 90 Days"

104:24 O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. 26 There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. 27 These all look to you to give them their food in due season; 28 when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. 31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works- 32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. 35b Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Martin Luther, whose reforming work we remembered this past Sunday, had a strong belief in the power of prayer. He himself practiced the discipleship habit of daily prayer (it would be more accurate to describe his habit as “hourly prayer”). In his “Small Catechism” (Section 7: “Grace at Table”) he instructed families to pray in this way before every meal.

The children and the members of the household are to come devoutly to the table, fold their hands, and recite: “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy all living things with delight.” (Comment: “delight” means that all animals receive enough to eat to make them joyful and of good cheer, but worry and greed prevent such delight.) Then they are to recite the Lord’s Prayer and the following prayer: “Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us, and these your gifts, which we receive from your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Kolb & Wengert (2000). The Book of Concord. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Luther based his understanding of how to pray at mealtime on two Psalms: 104:27-28 (a portion of this week’s reading) and 145:15-16. Set in the larger context of Psalm 104, we understand this verse as a “stewardship verse.” The Psalmist offers effusive praise for the creating work of God: the earth, the waters, the animals, grasses and plants, “food for the earth and wine to gladden the human heart,” the moon and the sun… all of this comes from the hand of God. And more importantly, set within the very nature of creation, is God’s attempt to care for what has been created. “When you open your hand, they are filled with good things.” Luther argues that there is more than enough for all to experience delight.

The problem is worry and greed, which compel people to long for (and accumulate) more than they need. That has been the story line for those of us who are reading the Bible in 90 days. We’re half way through the book today, and we have seen that while God’s desire for us is to experience faith and hope, the more common story is that people are consumed by worry and greed. It is worry and greed that compels Eve to take the apple, or Cain to murder his brother, or Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery, or Saul to threaten David’s life, or David to take Bathsheba, or the people of God to long for other gods. Worry and greed displace faith and hope – there is no room for both in a person’s life.

Luther teaches us to remember, at every mealtime, that it is God who provides for our every need. The world that surrounds us is capable of blessing and nourishing us all, and if we are faithful and thoughtful stewards of what has been entrusted to us, there will be enough so that, by God’s hand, “all living things will be satisfied with delight.” That comes as a word of good news for those of us who have little. It comes as a word of challenge for those of us who have plenty. If God has created a world that is capable of sustaining those who live within it, then those of us who accumulate more than we need do so at the expense of those of us who do not have enough.

At Saint Peter, we encourage every family to have a hunger bank on their dinner table. We suggest that at every meal, each person at the table places a coin in the bank (you could even have a tray of coins on the table, for those who don’t have pocket change). We do this as a reminder that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and even as we enjoy the meals that sustain us, we remember those who are less fortunate, and we offer a portion of what God has entrusted to us, in order that they might be satisfied; in order that they might experience delight.

“The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy all living things with delight.” May these verses remind us of how fortunate we are to have a God who provides for us. And may they inspire us to be the means by which God provides for others.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week's Text:

  1. What does the Psalmist affirm about God's creation in this Psalm?
  2. What does the Psalmist profess about God's care for us in this Psalm?
  3. How does an understanding of God as caring provider shape the way in which the Psalmist sings about God?

Connecting with This Week's Text:

  1. What does this Psalm teach me about God's care for me, and the debt I owe to God?
  2. How might I remind myself that it is God's grace which sustains me?
  3. How might I use some of what God has entrusted to me, to make sure that others know satisfaction and delight?

Scheduled Readings for "The Bible in 90 Days" 9/13/2009 - 12/12/2009


Begin Reading At Sermon Based On
9/13 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1-19
9/20 Leviticus 1:1 Exodus  16:2-15
9/27 Deuteronomy 23:12 Deuteronomy 6:1-9
10/4 1 Samuel 28:20 Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18
10/11 1 Chronicles 1:1 1 Kings 3:5-12
10/18 Nehemiah 13:15 Nehemiah 1:4-11a
10/25 Psalm 89:14 Job 38:1-11
11/1 Isaiah 14:1 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
11/8 Jeremiah 33:23 Isaiah 25:6-9
11/15 Daniel 9:1 Ezekiel 2:1-5
11/22 Matthew 26:57 Micah 6:1-8
11/29 Acts 6:8 John 20:19-31
12/6 Hebrews 1:1 Romans 5:1-11