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January 30, 2021

“He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.” Psalm 111:4

We’re still in Psalm 111 today, this majestic psalm of praise appointed for worship tomorrow. Sometimes the psalm translations we use in worship are nearly identical to the translation of the Bible we use for the other lessons, the New Revised Standard Version. Other times, the psalm translations (from the Lutheran Book of Worship) are a bit different. That’s not to say the underlying meaning isn’t largely the same or that one or the other translation isn’t valid. As in the case of today’s verse, the differences open up greater meaning.

Tomorrow in worship we will intone the verse above but in these words: “He makes his marvelous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” What strikes me is the decision to translate as “remember” what the NRSV translates as “renown.”

(Full confession: my Hebrew Bible and related resources are in my office at Grace and I’m not going to spend my morning googling original Hebrew sources. I make no claim as to which translation is correct. I strongly suspect that each is correct, albeit in slightly different ways. This is a morning devotion, after all, not an academic exercise. Let’s just be thankful that my cup of coffee has brought me thus far along the way.)

To have renown is to be talked about because of your deeds. To be remembered is to have others calling you to mind. The meanings shade together, of course; you can remember someone to another person. But what strikes me today reading through the psalm text for worship is that remembering is the opposite of forgetting. Not only has God done great things for us; God will make sure we remember these deeds of majesty and mercy. God does this not for the sake of self-aggrandizement but to sustain us during our lives, particularly which things are difficult and the good, the joyful, the holy are easily forgotten. Don’t forget, God is saying. Remember what I have done. Remember Jesus, who died for you, lives for you. Remember the Spirit, at work in you now. Don’t forget. Remember, and be re-membered. And then speak of this One who deserves such renown.

In the dry, challenging, difficult times, remember. Oh, and enjoy the snow today, Chicagoland!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of great renown, help us to remember all that you have done for us. Open our ears to hear your gospel. Open our hands to serve one another. Open our eyes to see the new things you do today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Who remembers this little dude? Anders, not yet two, June 20, 2013.

From → COVID-19

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