Psalm 51: Even now…

February 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we begin the Holy Season of Lent, we pray with Psalm 51. It is an elegiac summons the Lord offers to those who hunger for restoration, for those on hope’s last shore.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
    proclaim a fast,
    call an assembly;
Gather the people,
    notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
    gather the children
    and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
    and the bride her chamber.


Perhaps there is something that dramatic in your life that you will want to bring to God’s Mercy. But for many of us, Lent is a time to stop ignoring the little things in our lives that cripple our full redemption.

Those:

  • unforgiven hurts 
  • unresolved angers
  • petty jealousies
  • unloving criticisms
  • unkindnesses
  • petty cynicisms.

It is a time to face up to our failures to
pray, listen, hope, encourage,
witness, truth-tell, bless.

It is a time to:

  • become poor in spirit
  • mourn our suffering world
  • be meek before the power God’s Word
  • deepen in hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • be merciful
  • be pure of heart
  • be peacemaking
  • befriend persecuted

Lent reminds us that it’s not good enough to be good enough. Lent is about the “whole heart” thing. Is there anything keeping us from it?

Even now, says the LORD,
    return to me with your whole heart,
    with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
    and return to the LORD, your God.



Psalm 51 gives us a time-tested formula for a transformative Lent:

  • acknowledge sinfulness
  • ask forgiveness
  • act on God’s Grace
  • give thanks for God’s mercy

It’s a cycle we should repeat daily, but during Lent it’s time to take it up a notch.


Poetry: Marked by Ashes – Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
     halfway back to committees and memos,
     halfway back to calls and appointments,
     halfway on to next Sunday,
     halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
     half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
   but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
     we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
       of failed hope and broken promises,
       of forgotten children and frightened women,
     we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
     we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
   some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
   anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
   you Easter parade of newness.
   Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
     Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
     Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
   Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
     mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.


Music: Tears at Bedtime – Grundman

One thought on “Psalm 51: Even now…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s