The Rev. Patrick Keyser
Psalm 71:1-3, 12‐17
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be ashamed.
In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;
you are my crag and my stronghold.
O God, be not far from me;
come quickly to help me, O my God.
Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and
let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn
But I shall always wait in patience,
and shall praise you more and more.
My mouth shall recount your mighty acts
and saving deeds all day long;
though I cannot know the number of them.
I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God;
I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, you have taught me since I was young,
and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.
There is no other portion of Scripture apart from the gospels that I turn to more frequently than the psalms. I find there some of the most moving expressions of devotion and love for God as well as some of the most appalling desires for vengeance. The capacity to encapsulate the fullness of humanity, from the very best to the very worst, is part of what has made the psalms such an enduring treasure for people of faith for so many centuries.
This morning’s psalm illustrates well the sort of deep devotion to God that characterizes many of the psalms. The psalmist asks God to be a refuge, a strong rock, a castle of safety and then continues by calling to mind God’s mighty acts and saving deeds of the past, introducing what is, I think, a most important spiritual practice. We need to remember and retell the things God has done for us in our past, because we humans are prone to forget. In the midst of challenging times our focus and memory necessarily, I think, narrow. In such times it is all the more important that we remind ourselves of what God has done for us in the past so that we can look forward in hope, confident that God will be with us and see us through challenging times ahead.
This past Sunday we ended our morning worship with the song ‘We’ve Come This Far By Faith.’ I have sung it many times, but its words touched me in a particular way that morning. It testifies to the sort of faith I seek to embody as we continue our journey not only through Lent but also through the challenges of this time of pandemic. Let the words of the refrain be your prayer and proclamation this day:
We’ve come this far by faith,
Leaning on the Lord;
Trusting in His holy word,
He’s never failed me yet,
O can’t turn around
We’ve come this far by faith.
O Lord, strong and mighty, Lord of hosts and King of glory: Cleanse our hearts from sin, keep our hands pure, and turn our minds from what is passing away; so that at the last we may stand in your holy place and receive your blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, p. 41)