A Reflection for an ecumenical Thanksgiving Service
Psalm 107:1-16, 23-32
As a baptized member of the body of Christ, I have always felt that water has such palpable, mystical properties. And over my couple of months here, I have quickly realized that the waters of Tahoe are mightier than I ever could have imagined. It is it’s own beautiful force to be reckoned with. For the properties of this lake change in the blink of an eye. And it has given me new insight into verses 23-32 of Psalm 107.
There are afternoons when I sit on the beach and all is glassy stillness, as if even the sun has slowed its setting. And then there are days—like the storm that rolled through last week—that remind me of the words to an ancient hymn, St. Patrick’s breastplate.
“I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.”
In this holy place I am privileged to witness “the deeds of the Lord, [God’s] wondrous works in the deep” (v. 24). I witness the power of God in creation in both the moments when the storm was made still, “and the waves of the sea were hushed” (v. 29), as well as in the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks, and how the waves of our primordial lake swirl around the old eternal snow-capped rocks. Here, in this liminal space, in this pilgrimage place I witness the power of God in creation day in and day out—during both those serene and those stormy moments. And everyday I am grateful to witness the works of God’s hands.
But of late, more often than not in those stormy, rocky, tumultuous moments life has thrown our way this fall—from hurricanes, to wildfires, to mass shootings—, in the middle of such atrocities where it feels like we all shall be swallowed up whole, the power of God in creation I get to witness, the power of God I am grateful for is the power of God in community, in the Body of Christ.
Where do we turn when we feel like all hope is adrift? We turn to our community. Where do we come when we don’t feel like we can go on any longer? We come together in community? Who do we rely on when our homes are flooded or burned or our loved ones are lost? We rely on our community. The power of God in creation in some of the most deserted, imprisoned, storm ridden moments of our lives, is found in the resilience of humankind congregating in Divine community. The power of God in creation is found in the moments when those baptismal waters are still washing over us, still working on us. Recreating us. Returning us to the Divine image found within ourselves but also reminding us of the image of the Divine found in all of the faces surrounding us.
As the last couple of verses of our Psalm for today remind us, real gratitude, real resilience, real perseverance is practiced in community. We thank the Lord in community. We thank the Lord as an ecumenical congregation. We thank the Lord together from all corners of creation. For no matter how stormy the seas become, God’s steadfast love endures forever.