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Weekly staff meetings at FBC, Downers Grove, IL  began with a look into the Word and a season  of prayer before we worked together on the ministry matters at hand.  I remember a time when it was our organist’s turn to lead the devotional part of the morning. 

Marybelle Robinson was a skilled musician, quick-witted yet gentle as they come, with a quiet, fervent love for the Lord.  She had us turn to Psalm 136, describing as we found it in our Bibles that this particular Psalm has a call and response structure, the repetition designed to drive home a central truth:  God’s love does not change with the times.  We can count on it as much today as at any time in history.   I remember her saying something like  “because of its structure we often hop-skip through it, but today we’re going to read the entire psalm.  I’ll read the call, you folks the response.”

1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,”  she began,

and we answered, “For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

4 To Him who alone does great wonders, 

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

5 To Him who made  the heavens with skill,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

All the way through, one phrase at a time.   His lovingkindness is everlasting.  

Somewhere in the middle of Israel’s history she looked up and smiled  “are you getting this?” we smiled and nodded  “His lovingkindess is everlasting.”  

She continued through the rest of the psalm and we responded

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

23 Who remembered us in our low estate,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting,

24 And has rescued us from our adversaries,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting;

25 Who gives food to all flesh,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

26 “Give thanks to the God of heaven,    —   we’re done,”  she smiled.

 and we concluded,  “For His lovingkindness is everlasting. “

There wasn’t much else she needed to say.  We got the point.   I wished I could have heard Israel sing it – I doubt it was a quiet little thing, do you?

 Why not find this psalm in your favorite translation sometime today (we preferred the NASB at that time)  and read it aloud,  call and response, then spend some time summarizing your own history, or your family’s, responding to each phrase or each memory with gratitude –

Your lovingkindness is everlasting.

 Selah —