1. The author claims that we in the U.S. value independence, not so dependence. Do you agree? Disagree? What are your observations about these themes or values and American culture?
2. Have you had an experience of dependence you found difficult or uncomfortable? Can you share it?
3. The devotion describes Psalm 104 as a glad celebration of dependence on the part of all creation, and suggests that worship gives us a time to experience a “legitimate dependence” on God. What are your thoughts about these ideas?
Psalm 104: 24 - 34; 35b
24O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
26There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
28when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
31May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!
The Joy of Dependence
"When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die . . . When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground." - Ps. 104: 29 - 30
"Dependence" is frowned upon in our society, while "independence" is seen as a good thing. I get that. It's good to be in charge of your own life and have the capacity to make decisions about it.
Older folks fear becoming "dependent." When my mother wasn't able to drive any longer she still wanted to look out and see her car in the driveway. With the impatience of the rational I asked, "Why?" "I don't know," she said. "It just makes me feel like I'm not stuck or having to depend on all of you."
These days a fair number of twenty-something have returned to the parental nest, but it's not something anyone brags about.
Psalm 104, from which today's reading comes, might be considered a kind of joyful ode to dependence. Every living thing is seen as gladly and utterly dependent on the Creator. No one and nothing lives to itself alone. If we live, we live to God.
While I acknowledge the value of independence, I also think there's a lot of deep down loneliness in our highly independent society. And it's not just loneliness for other people; it's loneliness for God.
At least part of what goes on in good worship is that we are permitted a legitimate dependence. We turn to a power greater than us, to a mystery larger than we are.
If we need independence, and we do, we also need dependence. There is grace in knowing that we didn't create life or ourselves, that God is God, not us, and that there is One to whom we may, with the psalmist, joyfully shout, "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live." (Ps. 104: 33)
I'm not ashamed to say it, Lord; I depend upon you, on your grace, your mercy and your love. Thank you. Amen