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Students sitting outside Bockman
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Next Day

I was presiding at worship at the Memory Care Unit of the Immanuel Lutheran Communities in Kalispell, Montana. The pangs of death surrounded the sounds of the liturgy. Common liturgical phrases seemed to become abstruse--like shibboleths, if you will. The music was confining, because leaders regularly shout the hymn to make up for the quietude of a missing congregation. But then, if I pay attention, I see the mouth move in one or two of the huddled bodies hunched in a wheelchair. It becomes a soulful moment. All liturgy stops. The sacred text vaults into the space between us. I witness memory in these persons, even if they may not know that the snares of death encompass them.

I attend to the silent voice on the lips moving ever so alone yet accompanied by our common worship. I then remember how the God of the Psalter, of Psalm 116, inclines an ear and in a strange way allows these suffering persons with the loss of communal memory to remain in the land of the living, eternally.

Oh great God, garner us with the hope that absolves fear. Provide the imagination that becomes a liaison into an age of spiritual discovery of your healing power. We lean on you with hope. Amen.

David Rommereim, '81
Inter-faith Clergy Coalition, Whitefish, Mont.

Psalm 116:1-9 (NRSV)

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I pray, save my life!"
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
6 The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.