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Psalm 119:1

Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed

The word ‘happy’ is sometimes translated ‘blessed’. It could also mean ‘how honorable’. It refers to much more than simple happiness, but to that contentment and goodness that comes in those moments when we are at peace with ourselves and the world around us. I remember an episcopal priest in the troubled days of the late 60’s and early 70’s who spoke about the changing liturgy in their new prayer book. “It used to be,” he said, “that for one hour every week I knew exactly where I was suppose to be and what I was supposed to say.” But with the new prayer book, he lost even that.

This notion of being where I belong and doing what I am supposed to be doing – there is a deep goodness in it. Even a ‘happiness’. It is honorable, because all the obligations to God and neighbor are observed. It is content because all those obligations are kept. No one whispers doubts and disparagements in the community. No one feels the need to take you down a peg. No one resents your place. It’s why it’s hard to surrender the translation ‘blessed’.

The poet knows that such blessedness is rooted in God’s Torah – the stories, instructions, commands, songs and prayers that comprise the scriptures, the text through which God guides and sustains life. We would also say that such blessedness is rooted in Christ, because Christ is the embodiment of God’s word. When we pray that we would not be led into temptation, we are praying that God will keep us here, in the realm of the Spirit, in the peace of Christ, in the joy of the kingdom, in the light of the empty tomb.

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