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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 69:7–18           

It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my kindred,
   an alien to my mother’s children.

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
   the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting,
   they insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
   I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
   and the drunkards make songs about me.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
   At an acceptable time, O God,
   in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help
   rescue me from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
   and from the deep waters.
Do not let the flood sweep over me,
   or the deep swallow me up,
   or the Pit close its mouth over me.

Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
   according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant,
   for I am in distress--make haste to answer me.
Draw near to me, redeem me,
   set me free because of my enemies. (NRSV)

Reflection
“Save me from the mud. . . . Don’t let the abyss swallow me up”--it’s as if the psalmist is reading my Twitter feed seeing layer upon layer of mud flowing from D.C., Springfield, and Lawndale. The images of young people cut down by violence and hurtful talk by leaders who should know better is hard to wash off.

On the next screen, there are barely skimmed work emails that are more uplifting than “Breaking News” but responding in real-time can create an abyss or feelings of frustration.

Setting the phone down and pivoting to the dinner table, the psalmist would see children who treat strangers far better than the brother or sister or parent next to them. It’s easy to pull back or “feel like an immigrant with your mother’s children.” In these moments, I fail to appreciate those loved ones in our inbox or next door or a click away who are ready to offer comfort and fellowship. I overlook the countless chances where I could peel mud off of a co-worker, a harried parent at school pickup, or the person I pass each day who lives on the street. And of course I don’t fully see and appreciate a God who has never left my side and who loves me, in spite of all the mud I’ve created and the layers upon layers of mud that cover me.

Prayer
Gracious Lord, thank you for loving each of us, mud and all. Please comfort our neighbors who feel isolated and alone. Give thanks to the counselors, teachers, and youth leaders who help kids who are teased or abused. Help us to find ways to shower our neighbors with love and fellowship. Amen.

Written by Ranjan Daniels, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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