Friday, September 6, 2013

A Strong Fortress

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have taken heed of my adversities,
and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.

I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
terror all around!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord,
for I call on you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be stilled
that speak insolently against the righteous
with pride and contempt.

O how abundant is your goodness
that you have laid up for those who fear you,
and accomplished for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of everyone!
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from human plots;
you hold them safe under your shelter
from contentious tongues.

Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was beset as a city under siege.
I had said in my alarm,
‘I am driven far from your sight.’
But you heard my supplications
when I cried out to you for help.

Love the Lord, all you his saints.
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord. Psalm 31

The psalms are a wonderful gift to faithful people. They are ancient words, often sung by memory, that affirm our faith and give us strength to go on. Although our trials and tribulations, our joys and our sorrows, our lived lives might be different than those of the greatest king of Israel, the powerful words and visions are no less accurate for our days. When one pours out their soul to God, the faithful across time cam understand and still be moved by God's love and presence in our lives today.

The Gospel appointed for today is the crucifixion of Christ from Mark. The living presence of God cries out in the ancient words of the psalms as he suffers unspeakable pain. He sings the ancient songs and they are so embedded in his being that through agony, as life drains away, he is able to speak to God in the songs of a king. We are invited by God to know that we are in a relationship with one who is both Alpha and Omega, and has listened to the cries of the beloved since the beginning of time. God invites us to pray in our pain and loss, our joys and sorrow and to seek God always. For God is here with us, even at the depth of our sorrow and loss.

Today I ask God to help me pray in all things. May we trust God to help us live beyond our pain and sorrows, wrapped in the knowledge of God's loving presence right here and right now. God is our fortress and our sure defense, today.

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