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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 106:1–6, 19–23

Praise the Lord!
   O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
   or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
   who do righteousness at all times.

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
   help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
   that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
   that I may glory in your heritage.

Both we and our ancestors have sinned;
   we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.

They made a calf at Horeb
   and worshiped a cast image.
They exchanged the glory of God
   for the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God, their Savior,
   who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham,
   and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
Therefore he said he would destroy them—
   had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
   to turn away his wrath from destroying them. (NRSV)

Reflection
There’s no denying it. This psalm is uncomfortable. From start to finish, Psalm 106 rehearses the disobedience of the people of God. We hear of how the people of God made a golden calf and worshiped its image. They exchanged the glory of God for the lowliness of a common ox. The people of God ignored the one who liberated them from bondage and saved them from their oppressors. They forgot God.

Uncomfortable, but true. We, too, have our own golden calves. I don’t need to convince you of that. In times of anxiety and fear, we cling to self-made idols. We bow at the shrine of temptation and greed. We worship at the altar of pride and ego. We put our trust and hope in the things of this life. We forget God.

There is a strange comfort in knowing that we aren't alone in our brokenness. Since the dawn of humanity, we have failed in living up to the hope of God. We miss the mark. We come up short. We try to separate ourselves from God.

And yet, here’s the Good News: Jesus stands forever in the breach. Jesus stands with outstretched arms, closing the gap between our brokenness and the infinite grace of God. No matter how many times we fail at living into the hope of God, Jesus stands ready to journey with us back to the very heart of forgiveness and grace. God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Prayer
I give thanks to you, O Christ, for you stand at the breach—where I cannot stand. No matter how many times I mess up, you are ready to take my hand and lead me back to God’s pulsing heart. Your justice is bold and your mercy is wide. Help me to declare your praise with every breath. For you are worthy, O Lord. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator


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