May 16, 2021

Threescore and Ten

The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:10
As the Congregational pastor in one community where I lived, I was invited to conduct evening worship in a particular retirement community several times a year. At one such service, I chose as my hymn Isaac Watts' paraphrase of the 90th Psalm, Our God, Our Help in Ages Past. I didn't think that much of it—it was, after all, the most beloved hymn in my church, and practically the Congregationalist national anthem as far as we were concerned. But as we were singing the song during the service, I noted some strange murmuring. After the benediction, as I greeted people leaving the chapel, I asked a woman I knew what the disruption was during the song. "We only sing that song at funerals!" she told me.

When we're young, most of us don't need to think overmuch of our mortality. The older we get, of course, the more frequent of an intrusion such thoughts are. I suppose I can understand why residents of a retirement community (who weren't as accustomed to the song as I was) didn't enjoy singing Our God, Our Help. But as I've thought about that incident since then, I've reminded myself that the funeral liturgy of several churches includes a prayer that asks God to "help us to live as those prepared to die, and enable us to die as those who go forth to live." Indeed, there are many younger folks who, despite the amount of time they have remaining, live pointless and selfish lives. And there are many seniors who, though they may not have much time left in this life, live complete lives of love and service. 

As we think about our own mortality today, let us place our lives in the context of Christ's teachings, as well as his death and resurrection. May we find comfort in knowing and practicing the eternal values demonstrated in his ministry.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Our God, our help in ages past, 
our hope for years to come, 
be thou our guard while troubles last, 
and our eternal home.
 Psalm 90:1 (Isaac Watts)
✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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