Daily Devotional: Singing of the Flame That Never Dies

coffee-prayer-scripturePsalm 146.

Here the psalmist contrasts the faltering, fleeting power of human rulers who do not last beyond their lives at best and often are fickle about the poor, marginalized, and oppressed with the work and presence of God. What stands out to me is what God does and where God can be found: “The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

The LORD loves the righteous; the LORD cares for the stranger; he sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked.”

Growing up I got the sense from church that where God was to be found was in withdrawing from the world.  Both in the Adventist group called the Church of God where I spent my childhood and later among the charismatics in high school with whom my faith first came alive I often got the message got had a list of taboo things we had to avoid, lest we get caught up in the world.   If I withdraw from this world and its temptations, avoid those hurdles, I can be holy and apart.  Then God will reach me.

mother with baby in lead sunsetYet the Psalmist does not picture God as far off from our world, but right in its midst.  God is knee-deep in the muck, arms rolled up, like a farmer going down into the mud to rescue his wayward hog or goat that ran off getting caught in mud and briars.   God is more like the mother who hears her child’s cries when they are fallen with broken leg and rushes into the midst of things right to where that child is to lift them up.

Where is God?  God is in our lives, always present and working.

If we want to see God, we need but open our eyes.  Where are there people discovering freedom? Where are eyes being opened more fully to life? Where are people with disabilities discovering greater accessibility in a world so often full of barriers to them?  Where are the bowed down, the oppressed  or discouraged, finding hope and new direction?  Where are the marginalized being included and embraced?  Wherever such happens, where life breaks forth in the midst of death and freedom in the midst of oppression, whatever name is given for that happening ultimately it is the power and presence of the living God motivating it.

To me this is a reminder that to fully experience God I ought not pull away from the muck and mud of this world but plunge in, arms rolled up and ready to help.   We experience God in being God’s partners in this world, going to the places where God’s power and presence daily break out.  As I sit beside the sick and dying, holding their hand and comforting them & their families, I encounter the living God.  As I listen to the stories of the oppressed and marginalized, I see the face of God, and as I join my voice to theirs I participate in God’s work.   As I am present to the life-giving greening power of nature I see God, and as I join my hands to help repair the damage to nature in my small way caused by our selfishness, pollution, & greed I join God in God’s work.

Life then, in every spot and location, is a temple of the living God. Wherever I look I can find the presence of God.  And in any place I can worship, for the work of joining God in the work of healing, giving life, extending compassion, bringing justice or freedom, is worship and is prayer even if no words are spoken or songs sung.

This image of a worship, a song, that is our actions, to me is beautifully pictured by the words of the final song in Les Miserables

Do you hear the people sing

Lost in the valley of the night?

It is the music of a people

Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth

There is a flame that never dies.

Even the darkest night will end

And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom

In the garden of the Lord.

They will walk behind the plough-share,

They will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken

And all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade

Is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing?

Say, do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that they bring

When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade

Is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing?

Say, do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that they bring

When tomorrow comes…

Tomorrow comes!

Let’s raise our voices and join this throng raising voices in praise, joining God in God’s work of giving life, healing, and freedom to our world.

Your progressive redneck preacher,



One thought on “Daily Devotional: Singing of the Flame That Never Dies

  1. Carol says:

    Awesome! In a myriad of feelings, I experience hope!

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