Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Winds
Before starting, the meeting host should print out enough copies of this page (click on green printer icon above) for everyone in the group.
After general introductions, word of welcome and review of guidelines for small groups the meeting host will:
1. Invite someone to read the daily devotion printed below aloud.
2. Read the following introduction to the full text aloud:
In her reflection on this Psalm of Lament, Kaji Douša shares some of her own laments. As you reflect on the entirety of the Psalm, can you relate to the feeling of being in the “desolate pit”? Have you ever encountered anyone who you believe wanted to “snatch away your life”? If this were ever your experience, how would you respond?
She also uses the metaphor of the winds. Where is the wind blowing today? Do you see or experience God in the wind? How can the winds change for the better?
3. Read the full text again (below):
I waited patiently for the Lord;
who inclined to me and heard my cry.
who drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
The Lord put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Happy are those who make
the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt-offering and sin-offering
you have not required.
Then I said, ‘Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.’
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe for ever.
For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
who desire my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God.
4. Take a minute or two for silent contemplation.
5. As a group, reflect on the following questions (remember to refrain from cross-talk):
What word, phrase or image jumps out at you from this reading? Everyone shares without commentary.
What’s God saying to you in this passage? (remember to refrain from cross talk)
What is the call to action for you and/or for our faith community? (feel free to engage in group conversation when discussing calls to action).
6. Close the meeting by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
“Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire my hurt.” – Psalm 40:14
Weeks ago I sat in a chilly gymnasium on wooden seats crowded with clergy. We were the ones with the resources quickly available to allow us to show up for a call to the likes of us saying: Please: Stand with Standing Rock. And stand we tried. But the winds were strong. Our guide in this Lakota land offered a word. Take off your gloves. Pull your hands out of your pockets. And look at your hands, at your fingertips. In the U.S., the patterns on your fingers identify you in case there’s a crime. But to the Lakota, those patterns tell the story. They show us how the wind was blowing the moment you were born. And that wind means everything.
Maybe there’s a freedom to knowing that the people who have the most power to affect my life might possibly be seeking my extermination. Maybe it’s helpful to know, quite clearly, that my right to live, breathe, thrive, make my own choices, proclaim the love of the God I know intimately, identify my own partner, wear my own skin, exist with non-male parts could serve to compromise my position in church, life and state. Maybe that is helpful knowledge. Why? Because it clarifies my life’s mission in this moment and at this time.
It is January. This is not one of my favorite months, owing, mostly, to the bitter winds that assault my exposed face on my longer walks in the city.
Wind often feels like an enemy. As I walk my toddling daughter, fastened safely in her stroller, I worry that the wind will be too much for her as I try to coax her back into her hat and mittens. Wind threatens her security and comfort. It might make her sick.
I want to know the wind. Because I want to know how to change it. I want to know, in an onslaught of negativity, of nationalism that would call my right to exist or to thrive into question, that such hot breath is not the only wind that is possible. I want to take the power of the wind blowing at the moment of my birth, I want to see my palm and to know it, and I want the hand that holds those fingerprints to be: powerful.
Maybe the forecast calls for winds that would dominate me, “desire my hurt,” “seek to snatch away my life.” Maybe we are in a time when the tales of the Bible, the cries of the Psalmist in lament, seem acutely familiar. Maybe there’s a freedom in being this close to God.
Let this be a time when we change the wind, with the help of God. For God’s sake. Amen.