Wednesday of Epiphany 2 – Psalm 128

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children!
    Peace be upon Israel!

My neighbor died a few years ago and his family wrote an amazing obituary for him. They gave the pertinent details of his life, but then they summed it up with the two best adjectives to describe him: Gentle and Kind. If you had known him, you would have concurred. Those were the best words to describe him.

Often obituaries are filled with accomplishments, rather like Christmas letters and Facebook pages. I have often seen a photo of the deceased holding their biggest fish or standing atop some mountain or in some faraway place. The text speaks of great things done, a business built, or awards received. It is understandable that our thoughts are drawn to accomplishments when we consider a life, but lately I have been drawn to consider more the things that are between those high points. Perhaps this means I am getting old. I wonder about all the habits like eating dinner together, the times they said, “I love you,” or the sporting events they attended for their kids. I wonder about the gentle words spoken and the times they prayed, worshipped, and served. Those are often not the things that rise to the top of the obituaries. But they are the things that make a good life, much more so than the high points, awards, and accomplishments. The psalmist today sees domestic bliss, a fruitful life lived in humble toil, a father with children and grandchildren too. It is not a life of drama or even what passes for excitement in this world, but is that so bad? When I think of the things which I will leave behind me after I die, other than a great deal of stuff for my children to sort, I think the best of it will have been built in those simple habits and practices which I did every day, the things born of fear of God and walking in His ways.

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