Wednesday, September 28, 2011

15th Sunday after Pentecost - September 25, 2011

The Book of Psalms is sometimes called, “The Prayerbook of the Bible.”  The psalms were prayers written down by David and other Israelites.  Prayers that called on God in time of trouble.  Prayers that celebrated God’s goodness.  Prayers that cried out in frustration and uncertainty.  Prayers full of confidence that God would answer and rescue. 

Psalms speak to us because in spite of vast historical and cultural differences, we share common experiences with those ancient people: doubt, triumph, heartache, celebration, loneliness.  The sermon today is a personal reflection on Psalm 25.  But it’s also a kind of prayer.

Lord, Thank you for this psalm about the forgiveness of sins.

Verse 3, "[N]one who wait for you shall be put to shame." 
Waiting on God is trusting in him.  The psalmist waits on God in his distress,
trusting that God will not let him be put to shame.  Lord, I need not fear the
disapproval or hatred of any other, for you will not let me be put to shame.
This has come in awfully handy at times.  I remember when I was being interviewed by congregations last year.  I expected to be intimidated, even a bit scared about the whole process.  But then I remembered that I had nothing to fear.  Nothing.  No one who waits on you will be put to shame.

Verse 4, "[T]each me your paths."  God, you don't leave me defenseless and unable
to confront the challenges that life presents.  You lead and teach
me.  Not so that I can confront life without God!  No, to the contrary.  So that you enter into it all.  What do I do when my dad gets cancer?  You have taught me to hand that burden to you.  What do I do when I have not done all that I should?  You have taught me to repent and to get going.  What do I do when I don’t know what to do?  I call on you.  You teach me that with you and by you, all things are possible and no situation is too much to bear. 

Verse 7, "Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions."  And here is
the heart of the matter.  I have gone my own way.  Even after you
saved me I have gone my own way.  Persistently I take your love for
granted.  I am bound to sin....... And yet you refuse to remember it.  You
refuse to count it against me and instead teach me to depend upon your

Verse 10, "All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for
those who keep his covenant and his testimonies."  Fearful words.
Conditional words!  “For those who keep his covenant......”  I have not kept your covenant.  I have broken your laws.  I have fallen short.  This verse almost sounds like a promise, but it rings in my ear like a condemnation.......    But no.  For the sake of Christ, my God, you reckon that I have kept the covenant.  For the sake of Christ I am the object of your love and faithfulness.  I get the promise because he has earned it for me.

Verse 15, "My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of
the net."  Having eyes toward the Lord is trusting in him.  This is
what you have taught me, to look towards you for help in all circumstances,
to depend on your graciousness and faithfulness.  Even, especially,
when I have brought the trouble on myself.  For when I have brought the trouble on myself, then shame is there to trip me up and confound me.  That is when I need you, my Lord, to save me from myself.

Verse, 18, "Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins."  And
again.  There is trouble.  There is affliction.  But forgive my sins
Lord and deliver me.  Don’t let the trouble carry me away.  But stay near me all of my days.  Amen

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