Kensington United Church
La Crosse UMC
Today's Lectionary Text
Psalm 86Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my cry of supplication.
In the day of my trouble I call on you,
for you will answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and bow down before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
O God, the insolent rise up against me;
a band of ruffians seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant;
save the child of your serving girl.
Show me a sign of your favor,
so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame,
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
The Psalms usually don’t speak to me.
I’m not certain why. It may be my utter lack of talent when it comes to poetry. It may be that I really struggle to understand such kinds of writing separated from the context in which they were written. I mean, I can understand Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” and “The Road Not Taken.” But while I appreciate the beauty of the writing, the poetry provided by such other greats as Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are usually lost on me. The Psalms, unless I know where they fall within the history of the Old Testament, have proven difficult for me to fully comprehend,
As a result, I normally shy away from the Psalms, but on this historic day, when we inaugurate a new president after a tumultuous election season and an attack on the legislative branch of our government, I found myself drawn to the Psalm from today’s lectionary options.
Psalm 86 is a prayer attributed to David seeking God’s deliverance from enemies. And in particular my eyes focus on verse 11. I like the way the New Revised Standard Version puts it: “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”
We’ve certainly allowed ourselves to be divided, haven’t we? We start with people of goodwill arguing for what they think is the best course for the country on myriad issues. But then the whole system unravels. We allow people to use things beyond our control such as skin color to devise a hierarchy that God never intended. We turn a blind eye to matters of justice because to address them might just cause ourselves some discomfort. We dehumanize our political adversaries.
We get so caught up in politics that we forget that Jesus sits on the throne regardless of whomever wins an election.
I may not understand much about poetry, but I usually can identify wisdom. And I find a lot of it in the plea for God to teach us the way so that we can walk in God’s truth. And I understand what the psalmist means when asking for an undivided heart.
On this day of transition for the U.S. government, may we all pray for an undivided heart so that we can be unified in our devotion not merely to a government of this earth — though that government may be precious to all of us — but to God’s Kingdom both now and for an eternity.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
God of all the ages, in your sight nations rise and fall and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and save. May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search your will and see it clearly. If we have turned from your way, reverse our ways and help us to repent. Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen. (“A Prayer in Time of National Crisis,” United Methodist Book of Worship)
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