Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Evening and Morning

Genesis 1:5 (KJV)
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.


One of the major differences between how we look at a day and how the Hebrews did is that our "day" begins in the morning, when the Sun comes up.  But to ancient Israel the day began at Sundown.  As the Scriptures recount the first day (at least, the first day recognizable as a day), the King James Bible puts it literally: And the evening and the morning were the first day.  


Evening comes first.  Then comes morning.  Rest comes before labor.  Night comes before Day.  Sleep comes before waking, and so on.  Psalm 4 is an evening psalm: "Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent."  Psalm 5 is a morning psalm: "Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch."  I didn't figure this out.  I learned of it from The Anabaptist Prayer Book, I believe.  


What it points out is that the first thing we need to do is settle our anger (whether toward man or God) and ponder.  Notice it doesn't say, "be angry and then go lie down and obsess."  God really gives us a pattern for how to deal with anger in a healthy way.  First, he wants us to know it is alright to be angry.  He doesn't give us conditions for it.  But so often, by the time we get to dinner (the beginning of the day in the jewish way of thinking), stuff has built up and we're angry!  Next, he tells us not to sin.  I don't know about you, but when I'm really angry the first thing that snaps into action is my tongue.  I decide that the person I'm angry with needs to be put in their place, and that leads me to "process" my anger by venting.   But God tells me what I need to do is what I always told my angry children to do: take a "time-out," and go lie on my bed (in this case all night).   By doing this, he is removing from me the ability to sin (outside of my own thought life).  He's really doing me a favor!  That's why he tells me to shut up (be silent).  


What comes next is really beautiful.  Psalm 5 begins with a cry to God:  "Give ear to my words, O Lordconsider my groaning.  Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray."


I'd be groaning too if I had just spent the night processing my anger.  It is tiring.  It really takes it out of me to do that.  But it isn't necessarily wrong.   By the morning, when I finally capitulate my anger, I'm ready to talk to someone.  I'm ready to talk about the situation to God:  "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch."  What's interesting about this is that the Psalmist's response is worship.  He talks to God, yes.  Then he "prepares a sacrifice" (worship).  Finally, he watches.  What's he watching for?  For another argument or another problem with the person from yesterday?  Nope.  He's watching for God to act so that the next time he encounters the person who made him mad he's going into the interaction ready to watch God in the midst of the situation.   And so it goes...


And the evening (be angry, lie down, ponder), and the morning (cry out, worship, watch).


Jon  



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