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  • Writer's pictureBruce Ballantine

Newsletter March 2024 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ

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Dear Friends,

One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Psalm 119:105, which reads: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (NRSV)

The lamp and light metaphor is easy to understand. One doesn’t need a lamp or a light unless one is actually doing something. You can sit in the dark quite comfortably without any light whatsoever. But if you’re going to venture outside at night, hike a wooded trail in the darkness, or go downstairs to a dark basement, you need a light.

Thus, the question becomes: “In such situations, what light source is available to me?” I might consider the light of emotion, the light of education, the light of reason, or perhaps the light of experience. Certainly, each of these is capable of providing glimmers of light. But the psalmist suggests that the light that will most fully illuminate the path is the light of Scripture.

Scripture will serve as our most dependable guide as we make our way through the sometimes complicated, sometimes confusing, sometimes discouraging days of our lives. Scripture will light the way and help us make good decisions as we encounter forks in the road. Scripture will remind us of our sinful nature, while at the same time assuring us of God’s love and forgiveness. Scripture will remind us of God’s presence and encourage us when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. Scripture will remind us of our call to love God and love others as we love ourselves.

Thy Word, a song written by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and released in 1984, says it well:

I will not forget Your love for me, and yet My heart forever is wandering

Jesus, be my guide And hold me to Your side And I will love You to the end

Nothing will I fear As long as You are near Please, be near me to the end

Thy word Is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path

So, my friends, I encourage you to immerse yourself in Scripture! During this Lenten Season, pick up a copy and begin reading Lifted Up in Love, the Lenten devotional, which includes a Bible verse and a reading for each day during Lent. You will find copies on the table in the Cloister. Or, read through the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of John, from which I will be preaching during this 40-day season.

May God’s word guide each of us as we make our Lenten journey!

Grace and peace,



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