First Sunday of Lent

Psalm 103 

Let my whole being bless the Lord!
    Let everything inside me bless his holy name!
Let my whole being bless the Lord
    and never forget all his good deeds:
    how God forgives all your sins,
    heals all your sickness,
    saves your life from the pit,
    crowns you with faithful love and compassion,
    and satisfies you with plenty of good things
        so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness;
    does justice for all who are oppressed.
God made his ways known to Moses;
    made his deeds known to the Israelites.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    very patient, and full of faithful love.
God won’t always play the judge;
    he won’t be angry forever.
He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
    or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
    because as high as heaven is above the earth,
    that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
As far as east is from west—
    that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
    that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.
Because God knows how we’re made,
    God remembers we’re just dust.

The days of a human life are like grass:
    they bloom like a wildflower;
    but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone;
    even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.
But the Lord’s faithful love is from forever ago to forever from now
        for those who honor him.
    And God’s righteousness reaches to the grandchildren
        of those who keep his covenant
        and remember to keep his commands.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

You divine messengers, bless the Lord!
You who are mighty in power and keep his word,
        who obey everything he says, bless him!
All you heavenly forces, bless the Lord!
All you who serve him and do his will, bless him!
All God’s creatures, bless the Lord!
Everywhere, throughout his kingdom,
        let my whole being bless the Lord!

Today I am posting Psalm 103, which is appointed for this evening in the Daily Office Lectionary. I really appreciate the generational nature of this song of praise. The Psalmist, who is offering this hymn as a full bodied expression of gratitude, takes time to outline how this faithful God reaches back to Moses and the people of Israel and will continue to offer steadfast love to the grandchildren of his generation. From forever ago to forever from now, is God’s steadfast love. So full of thanks for all that is life-giving, the psalmist calls for everyone and everything to bless and thank the Lord.

I picture a woman totally freed – uninhibited. I read this and see a beautiful and aged face, alluring and  full of those beautiful lines and creases, each one earned, often running in the direction of a smile or a frown, depending on which muscles in the face have been most exercised in a life long-lived. This oldish face is full of delectation. Satisfaction is written across this liberated soul. She stands in the street and and boldly declares by her very presence and kind countenance that she is not measured by the metrics of a world whose creed is consumption. She is no longer under the influence. Nope. No-sir-ee! Those voices that tried to convince her that she was not enough are unpersuasive to her nowadays. She is free. She knows in the deepest part of her being that she is beloved. She knows, because she has lived, that being beloved does not mean a life without heartbreak, and it does not mean a life of certainty. In fact she stands there fully aware of how precious each minute is because she knows that “the days of a human life are like grass: they bloom like a wildflower; but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone; even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.” But she is unfazed by this knowledge. In fact it feeds her delight.

She is calling out to the earth, the creatures, and any being that will listen to convert. She’s not a religious crazy, mind you. You won’t find her screaming foolishness about Jesus and hell and short skirts and homosexual lifestyles through a megaphone at the corner of Dundas and Richmond. She calls the universe to convert away from such violence, hate and dominance. Her’s is a call to those around her to abandon the miopia of market driven dreams and delusions. She has been there and done that and was left remembering those words from an old-time prophet:   
We all go to the same place:
    all are from the dust;
    all return to the dust.
The she remembered that from forever ago to forever from now she is beloved. And that was her conversion. For the moment, she is clear of that world and firmly fixed on love. Her whole being is a blessing. Her whole being is gratitude. Her whole being is love.  She knows that as one of the beloved, she need not waste another minute obsessing about sins. She knows that the One who reminded her that she is beloved “is compassionate and merciful, very patient, and full of faithful love.” She knows that she no longer will tolerate being judged because she feels secure in knowing that the One who reminded her that she is beloved “won’t always play the judge.” Every fiber of her being (now) tells her that the love she feels from God is LARGE – as high as heaven is above the earth, as far as east is from west— it is that sort of large. 

And so she stands there.


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