Readings for today:
I’ve included the whole of69 in this morning readings. The Lectionary brackets it off suggesting that it can be left off. I take it the reason they did this was that it contains one of those portions, found with disturbing frequency within the Psalm where the writer calls on God to take vengeance upon his enemies.
Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them.
May their camp be a desolation;
let no one live in their tents.
For they persecute those whom you have struck down,
and those whom you have wounded, they attack still more.
Add guilt to their guilt;
may they have no acquittal from you.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
But I am lowly and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
It is harsh, cruel and vengeful. Yet, at the same time, it is the product of a searing honesty. When we read these words, we know that we are hearing an echo of our own thoughts and feelings.
My friend, the late Joseph Walker, who served as a priest in Edmonton, referred to the reading of the Psalms as the best way to get naked together, in that while reading the Psalms one finds that the deepest longings, joys and hurts of our lives will all be found there. Not all of these deep-rooted areas will be pleasant, but because the Psalms, in their uncompromising honesty, allow them to come to the surface and allow us to grapple with them head on.
The honesty of the Psalm writer encourages us to be honest, and honest self-evaluation is a good Lenten practice.
*As a side note, if you read Joseph’s post on the Psalms, and the comments underneath, you may find yourself wanting to reread the 1Corinthians passage afterwards.