Lent 2018 – 17 February

Revised Common Lectionary Reading: Psalm 32

I just realised that this Psalm is the source for a line from one of my favourite worship choruses: No Longer Slaves, released by Bethel Music. “You surround me with a song of deliverance from my enemies.”

I love this Psalm because I am someone who has needed real and serious forgiveness for many things. I’m not just talking the daily misunderstandings that usually get cleared away between friends, but serious, stupid, uninformed choices that brought serious harm to people. I love that David, responsible for rape and murder, among other things, was willing to be held accountable by his community, even though he was the king. And I’m glad that loving pastors, counselors, and friends held me accountable, and that somehow, I learned the grace of God’s steadfast covenant love–the kind that refuses to divorce me even when I have gone way wrong. It has been a delight to even feel forgiven by both God and those I’ve harmed.

With my elder brother David, I can say, “Since this was my experience, which was so terrible, so also will it be for anyone who is willing to acknowledge the times when we have culpably broken shalom!” This Psalm also reminds me of Paul, sitting in prison near the end of his ministry, writing to his crew at Phillipi: “This is a saying worthy of full acceptance: ‘Messiah Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–of whom I am the foremost!” There is something so joyful in being able to say, “I was a thus-and-so kind of person, and I remember that. But I’m not there anymore; I am free because Jesus has been kind to someone like me.”

I wish for you, dear faithful reader, the grace and joy of knowing both giving up your sin and taking up the forgiveness that will wash all your guilt away. May we all be eager to do everything we can to restore relationship with those we harm, and to celebrate when God, often through God’s people, rescues us from the floodwaters that we ourselves often provoke.

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