Saturday, March 28, 2020

Morning Prayer: Monday March 30 (Lent 5)

note, this material is for Monday Morning Prayer.
We have a recording for Sunday Morning, Lent 5 which will be available at the website and Facebook page.
I am unable to publish this from home. sorry if it is out of sequence.
Psalm 31 
Exodus 4:10-31    
1 Corinthians 14:1-19     
Mark 9:30-41
Some thoughts on Psalm 31. [A verbal commentary on the daily readings is available through the St Andrew's website and St Andrew's Facebook page]

"in you I seek shelter/refuge"
This is a very popular image in psalms. It is a relational term, understanding God as the place of refuge from the dangers of the world. This is a foundational insight into the nature of God. He is the God who "inclines His ear" and we are invited to meditate on that.

The prayer is composed by someone in dire straights, and it borrows from other psalms as well as Jeremiah. It is one of several hymns of supplication in times of great need. As we pray it, we may think of the people in different times and places who also found that these words echoed their own hard times. We might open our hearts to pray with them, living and dead, who  looked to the Lord and cried out, "Save me!"

Ps 31:5 is quoted by Jesus as He dies, in Luke 23:46, "Into your hand I commend my spirit." The spirit (ruah in Hebrew) is the life force in each person, breathed into the 'adam (human) at creation. It generally means "life." The psalmist declares that God "buys back/sets free" (redeems) his life. We can see how that has  special meaning in Jesus, but, by extension, every human being.

Idols are called "vain" or empty. Humans must choose, the real God or the false deities, and this  has always been  true. The Psalmist recognizes that God has spared him, God has kept him from the hand of the enemy. It is easy to see the problems which assail us. It is not so easy to discern the things which God has kept from happening to us. The sick person knows when they get better, but what of those sheltered from the illness, who are likewise spared?

As is often the case, the supplicant prays for the judgment on his persecutors. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for them. Why do we see the opposite here? Perhaps, it is because the psalms are meant to confront us with our true thoughts and feelings? Perhaps it allows us to hear the desire for revenge, uttered in the presence of the loving, merciful God. It is a mirror to our souls. Perhaps, it is a reminder that God will confront us with the truth, and we must each face Him with the  choices we made. The times we perscuted others, we did evil to one of His children. When we were mistreated, evil is done to us, His children. Some day God will make all things right.

Verse 22 also offers insight into our struggles. Our doubt and fear--God can't see me or hear me--are here on the page of Scripture. There is nothing new or modern about such unbelief. In every age, humans have had to struggle to believe that God  loves them and to trust God. The final exhortation is a wonderful verse to remember: Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.
Courage. Strength. Hope/Patience (waiting) The life of believers is a challenge, it always has been. If you find it is not easy, then you are truly on the right path!

You may want to find a verse which was especially resonant. Repeat is slowly, several times, and allow it to sit in your heart. I found 31:14 to be such a verse. It is a strong affirmation and declaration: "But as for me, I have trusted in You, Lord. I have said, "You are my God."   The Ancient Covenant declares that we are 'saved by faith' over and over. Whatever your fear, whatever your worry, whatever your situation--you can turn to the Lord, as so many have done before you. He wants to be your God. Trust Him!  

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