December 13, 2011

Dec. 13: Telling stories for generations

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By Jan Emswiler, assistant professor of nursing
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
In these verses, I am struck once again by how God works with and through ordinary people, and how these important stories must be told and retold. In doing so, the retelling becomes a form of praise and adoration of the Creator and Sustainer.

The psalmist, Ethan the Ezrahite, writes about how God directs faithful love to David as a way of strengthening him. In turn, David, as imperfect as they come, acted in courage and power in miraculous ways.

In the years that I worked in Tanzania, I had opportunity to work alongside some David-like characters. Imperfect people who opened themselves up to the faithful love of God and were empowered to do miraculous work. A woman in her 30s with a fifth grade education and living with HIV worked tirelessly to develop a community-based orphan support program where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day. Another woman living with HIV and open about her health status took the courageous step to face the district council, reveal and condemn the misuse of HIV/AIDS funding within district health services.

How can I tell and retell these stories, how can I draw strength from the stories and from God’s faithfulness and love today? When I think of these women, my inner spirit is filled with a joyful energy, and I can join in with verses 1-4, I can tell the stories for generations and sing of God’s faithful love. I can stand firm and tell everyone that God’s love stands firm forever, among all of us imperfect ones.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26 (NRSV)
1 I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 4 ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ” “Selah”

19 Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: “I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have exalted a young man from among the people. 20 I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. 21 My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. 22 No enemy will subject him to tribute; no wicked man will oppress him. 23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. 24 My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. 25 I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. 26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’

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Comments (8)

  1. Jan,
    I affirm your words of testimony to God’s faithful love and the strength we draw from stories, and therefore, the importance of retelling the advent story and the miraculous work we witness by those imperfect characters. I can testify also of walking with some of God’s servants who, though imperfect, are empowered to be God’s instruments. Praise Him, He is our Father, our God, the Rock our savior.

    Marilyn Kamp December 13, 2011 |
  2. Thank-you Jan for your inspiring devotion for today! I needed some inspiration today!

    Vicky Kirkton December 13, 2011 |
  3. What a gift you have shared with us in telling some of your stories! Now we too are blessed, and can bless others. Let it be; so be it.

    Jonathan Beachy December 13, 2011 |
  4. Your devotion resonated with me today. I, too, know some David-like people – ones who are imperfect, but who are completely open to God’s call and who follow it eagerly – and these people have inspired me more than I can express. Like you, when I think of them, I am filled with energy. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really identify with your devotional!

    Elizabeth S.O. December 13, 2011 |
  5. Praise be to God that He works through a world of imperfect people! Thank you for your words today.

    DeeDee Barnes Bruns December 13, 2011 |
  6. Thank you for sharing these stories. We are a broken people, all of us, but by telling stories of power rising out of imperfection we are all inspired to work with God for the good of all people.

    Heidi Siemens-Rhodes December 13, 2011 |
  7. Jan:
    I was surfing for ideas for a sermon this coming Sunday, came across this site from Goshen and what do you know…my cousin is featured here. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Tom Peachey Jr. December 13, 2011 |
  8. YES! to telling the stories and connecting them to God’s story. John Shea, a Catholic theologian and storyteller says that faith and church are all about “Gathering the people, breaking bread, telling the stories.”

    Tim Stair December 13, 2011 |