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Lent - March 7, 2021

By Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea - Sunday March 7, 2021

This devotion is the written accompaniment to a video Lenten message that can be viewed on our YouTube Channel by clicking HERE.

 

Psalm 19:  Heart Happy Laws

The law of the Lord is perfect…rejoicing the heart.” (Psalm 19:7-8)


Hello—and warmest greetings in this chilly season to you all in the Christian Church in Ohio.  I am Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, and I’m deeply grateful to work with Disciples Home Missions as your Director of Refugee & Immigration Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) PLEASE come (as many of your youth have in the past) to our office in DC to work together—and I pray to be again in Ohio with many of you soon, too!  Our devotion for today takes us to Psalm 19.


“The heavens are telling the glory of God” says the psalmist--because of the sun in the skies and because “the LAW of the Lord is perfect.”  “The Lord’s is a law,” says the psalmist (who may have been King David himself, who knew well about setting and building many laws) ”that lifts up your soul.”  The heavens sing because God’s rules are “right”; making your heart happy.  And God’s commandments and ordinances are TRUE in a way which (we might say in our time) “really make your eyes SMIZE”!  As the psalmist technically puts it, God’s laws “enlighten the eyes.”


It feels amazing, doesn’t it--especially when we live in a society and time of such divided perspectives and bickering over what is or isn’t truth--that we can know we, like the Psalmist, are able to be confident, and have full certainty that there IS a direction we can look to where laws are completely trustworthy.  That direction is towards God’s ways.  For with God, there is FULL JUSTICE and LOVE included in each regulation.  Because that is so, the Psalmist prays deeply that he would “consider himself warned”—that he might not ever be caught at fault in breaking God’s laws.


This season of Lent interestingly began with the prophet Joel in chapter 2 on Ash Wednesday saying “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble…and RETURN to me with all your heart, with fasting,” and in a way that respects the call to justice for the oppressed that is desired by God. Joel’s call was for obedience from the nation of Israel.  Now, the Psalmist in Psalm 19 calls us each as individuals to never be arrogant or guilty in disrespecting God’s laws.


In my work with refugee and immigration ministries, in working with you to build connections with asylum seekers and farmworkers, each day is FILLED with persons who’ve NOT experienced justice in laws around them.  Claudia has worked in the US as a farmworker growing food for us all for 20 years, but she’s not been provided any financial or health supports thru COVID.  Ramon’s kids were mostly born in the US and he tried to stay to support them, until his hope to support became dwarfed by laws that chose to arrest and deport him on the way to work—despite him being no danger, and being a leader in his Disciples church.  Alberto has spent years as a DACA recipient with an excellent high school record, but now is not allowed to attend college.  Keo has waited decades for his wife to reunite with him in the US.  Rebekah is held back from the border by policies that will not allow for due processing of her asylum claim after her husband was killed and the children were threatened and beaten until they fled in terror.


Every one of them knows well the difference between God’s perfect laws, and the often unjust policies that daily affect their lives.  They know, as the Psalmist knew, that joy that is brought into our hearts and eyes when laws are JUST—when both as a nation and as individuals, we seek to follow and to build laws that are fair, and trustworthy, and rooted in LOVE like God’s.  May all experiencing unjust laws in their lives be blessed by the joy of justice!  And may any of us who have NOT had to live in circumstances of being pushed out of our own homelands likewise WORK as faithfully as we can to build righteous and trustworthy laws, as well.

 

Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea

Director, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

SStanley@dhm.disciples.org

 



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