In today’s reading, the psalmist sings a petition for guidance and a change of heart to follow God’s paths and to learn God’s truth. As the psalmist cries out for forgiveness, understanding, instruction, and humility, we hear an invocation of God’s power to liberate the psalmist—and us—from shame and fear.
The psalmist begins the petition by lifting up his or her soul to God, trusting in God as an exercise in humility and vulnerability. The petition then oscillates between admitting faults and reminding God of God’s promises of love and goodness. Only when God is mindful of God’s mercy, justice, steadfast love, and faithfulness does the bold relationship of our vulnerability before God and petitions for change result in a true metanoia. The final verse of today’s passage highlights our responsibilities in keeping divine covenants and decrees, but as we learned in Genesis, God makes promises to us in covenants as well. Part of the praxis of a vibrant relationship with God includes reminding God—as well as ourselves—of the covenants we have made together.
During Lent, we focus on our end of the covenantal bargain—to seek to follow God, to fast from something that blocks our relationship with God. When we acknowledge the behaviors or vices in our lives that separate us from God, we are better able to lift up our souls for change toward following God’s paths. God’s end of the bargain grants hope in the promise that God’s way will ultimately prevail. When we seek to release our sins and shame and humbly follow, God promises that our paths will be those of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Loving God, give us grace to lift our souls to you as we seek the emancipation of your all-encompassing love. Amen.
The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.
• Read Genesis 9:8-17. When in loss have you experienced a new beginning?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you remind yourself of your covenant with God?
• Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you given up privilege in order to work for justice?
• Read Mark 1:9-15. When did you last hear God speak these words to you: "You are my . . . beloved; with you I am well pleased"?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.