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“No pockets in a shroud!”

One of the things that I valued when I conducted funerals in the USA, was that the congregation had one of their finest embroiderers create a ‘Pall Cloth’. This was a beautiful sheet, large enough to cover a casket. There would be verses of Scripture embroidered all over the Cloth with elegant little flowers and images of life all around the Cloth, truly, it was a work of art. No matter who was lying in the casket, no matter how expensive or how cheap the casket was, this Pall Cloth was lovingly laid over it. The idea conveyed was that in death all are equal. 

The psalmist tells us this same thing in our psalm, and goes a step further saying that rich and powerful people cannot take their wealth with them and cannot use that wealth to bargain with God! “Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life, there is no price one can give to God for it.” (Verse 7) 

What is your purpose today?

Prayer:

Loving God, grant that I may live this day to celebrate Your gift of life rather than to increase my diverse expressions of wealth and power. Amen.

Psalm 49 (NRSVA)

1 Hear this, all you peoples;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
    rich and poor together.
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
    I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
    when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
    there is no price one can give to God for it.
8 For the ransom of life is costly,
    and can never suffice,
9 that one should live on for ever
    and never see the grave.

10 When we look at the wise, they die;
    fool and dolt perish together
    and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes for ever,
    their dwelling-places to all generations,
    though they named lands their own.
12 Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
    they are like the animals that perish.

13 Such is the fate of the foolhardy,
    the end of those who are pleased with their lot.Selah
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
    Death shall be their shepherd;
straight to the grave they descend,
    and their form shall waste away;
    Sheol shall be their home.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
    for he will receive me.Selah

16 Do not be afraid when some become rich,
    when the wealth of their houses increases.
17 For when they die they will carry nothing away;
    their wealth will not go down after them.
18 Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy
    —for you are praised when you do well for yourself—
19 they will go to the company of their ancestors,
    who will never again see the light.
20 Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
    they are like the animals that perish.

 
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