St. John's Anglican Church

Birmingham, Alabama church

Birmingham, AL, Mt Laurel, Mt. Laurel, church, Anglican, Episcopal, Christian, Catholic, Reformed Episcopal, Holy Communion, Eucharist

Psalm 1 and Seasons of Change

The beginning of the Church calendar year with Advent always brings us back to Psalm 1 in the Lectionary:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

The blessed man does not
walk in the counsel of the wicked
stand in the path of sinners
sit in the seat of scoffers

The blessed man
delights in the law of the Lord
meditates on the law day and night

Such a blessed man is like a tree
firmly planted by streams of water
yielding its fruit in due season
has leaves that don’t wither

As I was meditating on this passage it occurred to me that this tree endures all kinds of seasons: windy, stormy, cold, hot and dry seasons. Despite all these troubling seasonal occurrences the tree never fails to produce its fruit in due season … because it is firmly rooted, its roots reaching deep into the soil, drawing from the streams of water that which sustains it.

How are we able to endure, to produce fruit in due season?  Sometimes we go through the dry, troubling seasons of our faith, and no matter how diligently we meditate on God’s Word, we often do not hear His voice.  There is confusion and clutter, the busy-ness and discouragements of life. We are often overwhelmed and disoriented.  We cannot hear God speak to  us. We cannot discern any fruit, in or out of season,

In Mel Gibson’s World War II movie, Hacksaw Ridge, an American pacifist and combat medic of strong Christian convictions, Desmond Doss, was attached to a combat unit but  refused to carry or use a firearm. He went with his unit into combat on Okinawa, and remained on the battlefield during the battle, and even after his unit had withdrawn, to rescue 75 wounded soldiers.  (Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.)  In the film, in the midst of the slaughter, din, and chaos of war, Doss tries to steady himself in his faith. Disoriented and overwhelmed, he hesitates in stunned silence at the carnage, saying to God: “I can’t hear you.”   However, because Doss was firmly rooted in his faith, he recovers his senses and his God-given purpose, end sets about rescuing the wounded and dying.

At Advent, we are reminded that there were not many who were firmly planted by the streams of living water.  The Gospels record that at Jesus’ advent only a few possessed a firmly planted hope, a living faith that produced its fruit in the season of the Messiah’s coming. Perhaps, others that day were like Desmond Doss, or like ourselves, for a season overwhelmed and disoriented, struggling to hear God’s voice. When we go through the seasons of our faith, we may struggle to hear God’s voice, but by faithfully drawing on the streams of water God assures us that we will produce fruit in due season. In this hope let us look toward Christ’s coming. And this Advent, let us commit ourselves to be among the blessed of Psalm 1.