Sunday, April 29, 2018

Prayer of Confession             

Forgive us, Lord, for hearing only what we want to hear and disregarding the rest, as when we unfairly consider Psalm 22 only a baleful lament, a reciting of our mistreatment at the hands of others, the haunting agonized cry made forever infamous by Jesus’  plea from the cross:  “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Worse yet, our unfair and partial consideration of this ancient song wrongly informs our own prayer habits. Our default mode when we pray is our penchant for cataloguing misfortunes, nursing our wounded pride,     rehearsing the scorn heaped upon us by adversaries.  What we call prayer is often little more than holy whining, ignoring the fuller   dimensions of your divine grace that imbues even our darkest hours.  Have mercy on our misuse of these sacred words, we pray. Amen.**                                                                                        - inspired by Psalm 22 and the poetry of Paul Simon

Assurance of Pardon                                                                                                                         

Take heart, all whose prayers tend toward self-indulgent mourning. Lament is a necessary and healthy component of prayer, lacking which our entreaties to God would founder in sugary sweet irrelevance. God cannot comfort us if we cloak our brokenness and deny our grief. But lament without hope is not a true reflection of Biblically-informed prayer, and Jesus’ choice of Psalm 22 in his desperate       suffering on the cross served then and now as code words pointing to that Psalm’s ultimate shout of victory over pain, humiliation and death. Indeed, only when our frail souls feel “poured out like water,” just when “a company of evildoers encircles us like dogs,”         precisely when “trouble is near and we are scorned and despised by others,” at that very moment is God most near, not hiding but hearing when we cry, ”ruling over the nations, proclaiming deliverance to a people yet unborn.” Thanks be to God for speaking to us not in partial-Psalm sound bites, but through the full expression of the matchless Hebrew Psaltery!**                         - inspired by Psalm 22