Moving from words to witness in our relationship with God.
Help, Thanks, Wow.
Alicia Reese
October 10, 2017

Psalm 100 (NRSV)
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.
This is one of those “feel good” Psalms. In it, we are reminded that we are God’s people, chosen, cared for and loved by God. We belong to God—all of us—and that is a thought that brings me joy and does make me want to show praise to God because I am grateful to feel loved and to feel like I belong to something greater than myself.
But lately the world has been a discouraging place, to say the least. Friends have experienced great loss in their lives; peoples’ homes have been destroyed and lives upturned by natural disasters; targeted acts of terrorism and violence have wrought suffering in our cities; our government has been causing far more chaos and concern than comfort and cohesion despite it all. In the midst of all of this, it is difficult to feel a sense of belonging and love, and to express gratitude, but this is when we need it most.
I had a few wonderful days off this past weekend. I got to celebrate my one-year wedding anniversary with my husband, I celebrated the wedding of a couple of our friends, I got to spend time with my family, I was proud of several friends who ran the Chicago marathon, and I dedicated some time to self-care. Additionally, here in Chicago we had unusually gorgeous weather. I found myself thanking God almost continually throughout the weekend. I continued to receive CNN updates on my phone about all that is going on and going wrong in the world, but I found myself praying. I prayed prayers for Help, I prayed prayers of Thanks, and I prayed prayers of Wow. (Author Anne Lamott)
God, Help those who are in need, those who are suffering, those experiencing loss, those in power needing guidance. Remind them they are burdened to help those who are vulnerable, to help your people feel peace and comfort; let them not feel alone. Help me to spread your love peace and comfort in the world.
God, Thank you for your beautiful creation and the opportunity to enjoy it. Thank you for love in my life and for the chance to witness the love of others. Thank you for the blessing of time; help me to spend it wisely. Thank you for giving me a sense of belonging, even though I have doubts at times.
God, Wow, I am in awe of your creation, of the love you have for all your people that is steadfast and faithful. You are a mystery beyond comprehension, and that gives me hope and comfort because you are boundless, and so is your love. In you I put my faith and continue to pray.
It is easy to let the world make you feel disheartened. In those moments, I want to remind you that you are a child of God, you belong, you are loved and nothing can change that. I hope that we, here at First United, can be that reminder for other people in the world.