Psalm 1 (NRSV)
Verse 1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
Verse 2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
Verse 3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
Verse 4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Verse 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
Verse 6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
My first parish in the dry-land farming country of northeast Montana was basically treeless, except for along the Big Muddy, where large cottonwoods were rooted in its stream. Psalm 1 introduces the Psalter with this image of depending on God as being like a tree that depends on a river in inhospitable conditions. But there was a severe drought when I served in northeast Montana, and the Big Muddy went dry. Nevertheless, the cottonwoods were sustained by the subterranean moisture invisible to the eye.
When we encounter the arid times of depression, oppression, loneliness, ill-health, and grief, we trust that God will sustain us even when we cannot sense it. For in the water and the Word of baptism, we have been rooted into the very life of Christ. “It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). We trust that God is an ever-flowing stream of justice, unconditional love, and blessing.
O God, Fount of every blessing. Fill us with your love and assure us of your boundless grace which nourishes us at every moment and event of our lives. Amen.