High River United Church of High River, Alberta

A Message to Connect - April 29

Grace & Peace to you! 

First of all, we know that those of you joining in the Daily Prayer at 10:00 am each day will be wondering about the scripture readings for May 1st onward.  They are now ready.  The prayer is almost the same, just a few small edits.  For scripture, a suggestion came from a colleague about reading a psalm a day.  Actually she said, “eating” a psalm a day – that is reading it, sitting with it, and pondering it during the day to digest it.  So, we invite you to “eat” a psalm a day for the coming weeks – and together we’ll work our way through all of the 150 psalms.  To download your copy of the new Daily Prayer for an Extra-Ordinary Time, here is the pdf:



Susan’s reflections on Psalm 139:1-18

Psalm 139 is one of my favourite psalms, perhaps because it mentions knitting – which I love to do.  Knitting for me is a spiritual practice.  Knitting calms my mind and spirit.  The rhythm and the repetition of stitch after stitch settles my mind when it starts darting off in many directions.  As I knit, I settle into a calm and my body stills. It becomes a way of praying for me. As I read Psalm 139, I realize that I have the same feeling, a calming rhythm to the words.


Psalms are always about emotion.  Remember when reading a psalm that they are one person’s expression of what they feel about God.  Psalms are one person’s understanding or feeling, at a specific moment, about how they perceive God’s action in the world and what they believe God is saying to them.  When we read a psalm, it is the emotion underlying it that is what is being conveyed, an emotion so deep that the person felt compelled to put it into words.  The emotions expressed, which you’ll discover as you read through the psalms, include every emotion on the spectrum: joy, anger, confusion, betrayal, frustration, loneliness, wonder, and more. 


Remember, there are no good or bad emotions.  Emotions are neutral.  They come upon us, settle upon us.  What we do with those emotions can be good or bad, but the emotions themselves are telling us something.  We need to feel our emotions, name them, and then offer them a good outlet.  For many emotions, such as anger, frustration, confusion, betrayal and loneliness, even joy, the best outlet is tears!!!


So when I read Psalm 139, I notice the same feeling settling upon me as when I knit.  The repeated ways in which the psalm writer expresses that God is present with us, and knows us right to the depth of our being, brings a calmness to me.  But then we reach verse 19 (which you might notice I didn’t include in today’s reading.)  And we discover that the psalm writer isn’t quite so calm and centered.  There is abundant frustration, “O that you would kill the wicked, O God….”  Maybe this is the frustration that the psalm writer is trying to soothe with the words of all the preceding verses.  But after the outburst, verses 23 & 24 settle back into the repetition of centered and calming words.   It’s as if the knitting needle slipped, many stitches were dropped and had to be recovered, but eventually the centering and calming rhythm of God’s love is found once again.


What activity helps you find that calm and helps you settle when you feel alarm?  Many people today have started baking bread, finding that the kneading of the dough brings the calm.  For others it might be doing a puzzle or crossword, or digging in the garden.  These are the activities we need to engage these days, when we can.  The alarm caused by COVID-19 and the related economic devastation are not going to easily or instantly go away.  Therefore we need to bring the alarm down in ourselves, so that we can function well and make good choices.


And, if you don’t have time for knitting or gardening or a puzzle, remember the gift of your breath.  Pause for a moment. Close your eyes and slowly take three deep breaths, slowly in and slowly out.  Bring a calming place, person or word into your mind.   Offer a prayer, “Loving God, calm my alarm.”  This only takes a few moments, but it re-sets us and grounds us in God’s presence.


Remember, as the psalmist offers, “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Loving Creator of all.  God is with us; we are not alone.  God’s hand is holding us fast.

These are words to knit by and live by!


With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.”  A. Heschel



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