Rev. Dr. Mobby Larson is a retired pastor living in Gales Ferry CT.
Scripture: Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40 (CEB)
Don’t get upset over evildoers;
don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
because they will fade fast, like grass;
they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
and he will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord!
Trust him! He will act
and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
and wait[b] for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
someone who invents evil schemes.
Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
Because evildoers will be eliminated,
but those who hope in the Lord—
they will possess the land.
In just a little while the wicked won’t exist!
If you go looking around their place,
they won’t be there.
But the weak will inherit the land;
they will enjoy a surplus of peace.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their refuge in times of trouble.
The Lord will help them and rescue them—
rescue them from the wicked—and he will save them
because they have taken refuge in him.
Reflection: Farming Faithfulness
This psalm begins warning us not to get upset over evildoers, and in later verses it tells us to let go of anger and leave rage behind!
It seems to me these words are more appropriate than ever. Anger, rage and evil seem to be attacking us in whatever direction we turn. Hate crimes are rampant. People point their fingers at others, accusing them of the very things they themselves are doing. Every facet of our lives is rent by division—from politics, to healthcare, to classrooms. And it’s not just our society; our families are torn apart. Watching the evening news makes me want to crawl up into a little ball on my couch and hide under the fleece blanket. Otherwise the rage will take over.
But the psalmist does have words of comfort and advice, assuring us that evil will be eliminated and we need to trust God. It’s not just passive trusting, however. We are to trust…and do good. The phrase that caught my attention in this translation was the instruction to farm faithfulness.
Now, I am not a farmer; and I confess that I can barely keep my tomatoes alive each summer. But I do know that farming takes trust and hard work. We have to trust that the seedlings are healthy, that the soil is rich, that there will be sufficient rainfall. And there is so much we have to do: prepare the soil, nurture the seedlings, prune, water, fertilize, harvest.
What if we “farmed” our faith with as much dedication and hard work? We must trust that God provides sufficient resources and direction wherever we are. And then we are called to be caretakers and nourishers so that our faith will grow, and that it will provide fruit enough to share with our neighbors.
Few of us have local family farms, and even fewer of our population are large-scale farmers. But we can grow something in whatever small plots or containers we have. We are each called to “farm faithfulness” wherever we are, in whatever way we can. It is hard to imagine that one person alone can take on the fight against evil; but we can each contribute to a rich harvest of faith and peace and goodness, providing nourishment for our families, our neighborhoods, our world.
Holy God, Creator and Sustainer, be with us as we are struggling to grow in our faith as we face the challenges of this world. Help us to trust, and to do good wherever, however we can. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the families and friends of more than 915,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the family and friends of Rev. Robert Buckwalter, former UCC Pastor in MA and Chaplain at Williams College (MA). Rev. Buckwalter died on Jan. 15
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those who continue to fight for sensible climate regulations and to teach sustainable practices to preserve our planet
This Month in History:
Celebrating Black History: Amos Beman
(Contributed by Rev. John VanEpps - SNEUCC Archivist)
Amos Beman was born in Colchester in 1812 and grew up in Middletown. His family was involved in various anti-slavery and abolitionist movements in the area. He was unable to take courses at Wesleyan but was tutored by a white student. During the early 1830s he was elected secretary of a local group opposed to the colonization movement to return emancipated Black people back to Africa. As Amos Beman remarked, “Why should we leave this land, so dearly bought by the blood, groans and tears of our fathers? Truly this is our home, here let us live and here let us die.”
Amos Beman was raised up by the Talcott Street church (now Faith Congregational Church) in Hartford and was licensed by the Hartford North Association in 1838. He then became the first settled Black pastor of the Temple Street (now Dixwell Avenue) church in New Haven. He was pastor there from 1840-1857. During those years the church became a center of various programs of education, mutual assistance,and protest meetings.
In the early 1840s Beman resigned from the church because it was not able to pay his salary. Through the efforts of white ministers as Leonard Bacon and Nathaniel Taylor, they were able to raise funds to build a new church in 1844. Amos Beman was able to raise support for his salary from various Congregational churches around CT.
Especially after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Amos Beman became active as a conductor in the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he served in a battlefield ministry called the “Christian Commission. Following the Civil War he labored among the freed slaves in Tennessee. Amos Beman died in New Haven in 1862.
Editor Note - Correction: Last week's historical note incorrectly stated the abolition of slavery in the U.S. was 150 years ago. That date is actually 1865 - 157 years ago.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”