Psalm 103 begins and ends with this exclamation of praise:

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

In between are a cluster of wonderful gems of faith that make this, for me, one of the greatest poems ever created. Here are a few:

  • The psalmist tells his soul to remember all God’s gifts of grace (verses 2-3). The first two things he mentions are ways in which God embraces him with all his deficits, forgiving his sin and healing his sickness. He is not valued because of what he can offer God, but because of what God can offer him.
  • His soul is crowned with steadfast love and mercy (verse 4). God’s abiding personal love for him is like dessert after his grace-meal, and this will continue throughout his life (verse 5).
  • God relates to him, not as a righteous judge, but as a loving father, who knows his limitations and accepts him as he is (verses 8-14).
  • God is committed to this intimate relationship with him even though He is, at the same time, the Ruler and Sustainer of the entire universe (verses 19-22).

As an 83-year-old dude, one statement in the psalm stands out to me especially. The poet says to his soul:

“Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (verse 5).

He says this to his soul! His body may be dragging, but his soul keeps getting renewed. It was said of Moses: “He was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated” (Deuteronomy 34:7). I don’t know about my sight or my vigor, but I’m trusting the Lord to keep renewing the youth of my soul. 

That’s why I’m glad to be part of the things that are happening at ABC today:

  1. The Church Revitalization project, as we work with our Growing Young Cohort of other churches trying to move into a more youth-oriented phase of ministry, worship and outreach. It’s not just about having more young people at ABC; it’s about all of us, even our seniors, experiencing having our youth renewed like the eagle’s.
  2. Our rethinking of how to relate to the LGBTQ+ community as we reaffirm that Jesus’ Good News is for all. I encourage all of you, even those who identify with me as older dudes, to join the conversation this coming Sunday evening.

I’m beginning to realize that these two paths at ABC are part of the same faith journey. Our youth is being renewed.

–Pastor George Van Alstine