“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”
The unforgettable responsive reading
It was midnight on Thursday, February 8, A.D. 356, and Athanasius, a leader in the early Christian church and passionate defender of the deity of Jesus Christ, was leading a worship service. Suddenly loud shouts and clashing armor could be heard outside the church. Soldiers had come to arrest him.
But Athanasius said, “I didn’t think it right, at such a time, to leave my people,” so he continued the service. He asked a deacon to read Psalm 136 and then requested the congregation to respond with the refrain, “His faithful love endures forever,” which they did twenty-six times over the din of the soldiers outside.
Just as the final verse was completed, the soldiers rushed into the church, brandishing their swords and spears and crowding forward up the nave toward Anthanasius. The people yelled for Athanasius to run, but he refused to go until he had given a benediction. Then some of his assistants gathered tightly around him, and, as he recounts it, “I passed through the crowd of people unseen and escaped, giving thanks to God that I had not betrayed my people, but had seen to their safety before I thought of my own.”
Athanasius was portraying to his people God’s love, which endures forever. He was willing to lay down his life for his flock — just as Jesus had laid down his life for his flock a few centuries earlier.
Since God’s “faithful love endures forever,” why is they ever any need to worry?
Adapted From The One Year Book of Psalms with devotionals by William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen (Tyndale) entry for November 8.
Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House