A Theme Psalm for this Lent

Psalm 25
(from Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill)

To You, O Love, I lift up my soul!
O Heart within my heart, in You I place my trust. Let me not feel unworthy; let not fear rule over me. Yes! May all who open their hearts savor You and bless the earth!

Compel me to know your ways, O Love; instruct me upon your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for through You will I know wholeness; I shall reflect your Light both day and night.

I know of your mercy, Blessed One, and of your unconditional Love; You have been with me from the beginning. Forgive the many times I have walked away from You choosing to follow my own will. I seek your guidance, once again, I yearn to know your Peace. Companion me as I open to your Will!

You are gracious and just, O Spirit of Truth, happy to guide those who miss their way. You enjoy teaching all who are open, All who choose to live in truth. Your paths are loving and sure, O Holy One, and those who give witness to You through their lives are blessed beyond measure.

Yet all too often glorious gifts of Grace, of Love and Light, are veiled by my busyness.  I bow down before You; instruct me, that I might choose the way of love and truth. I would live in your abundant Love, and my children as well.  Your friendship is offered to all whose hearts are open; You make known your promises to them.  My eyes are ever on You, Beloved, keep my feet from stumbling along the way.

Turn to me, O Holy One, and envelop me with your love, for I am lonely and oppressed.  Relieve the blocks in my heart that keep me separated from You; See all the darkness within me; fill it with your healing Light.  Look at my pain and all my fears; they shut out love and life.

Protect me and free me; let me not live as unworthy, for I would return Home to you.

May integrity and wholeness fill me as I dwell with You, O Loving Presence.

May we, together with the angels and the company of heaven, help unfold your Plan for planet Earth.

This Lent, the responsorial psalm for the First Sunday in Lent deserves our attention for a couple of reasons: first because Psalms are often overlooked, sandwiched between the first reading and the gospel; and second because this particular translation of Psalm 25 feels to me like a really good theme song (psalm) for Lent. 

For too long, it seems to me, the preaching during Lent has been centered on our unworthiness, faithlessness, and sinfulness.   I see Lent memes on Facebook, including one that says “Lent: 40 days of being sad” and another with a photo of a very mean-looking cat over the words “It’s Lent,” and many others about sacrifice and giving up things, all with miserable looking people in them. Lent clearly has gotten a bad rep!  Yet every lectionary reading today, including the psalm, extols God’s mercy and boundless love for us. And as we move through Lent, that continues to be true.  Though the readings may make mention of how God’s people fall short in one way or another (the truth hurts!), God’s love and mercy are ALWAYS there in the forefront. I recently heard on CBS Sunday Morning a country lyric by Ashley McBryde: “Jesus loves the drunkards and the whores and the queers. Would you recognize him if he brought you a beer?” That sounds to me like a challenge to love as God loves, Lent or not!

In her translation of Psalm 25, Nan Merrill writes “Let me not feel unworthy; let not fear rule over me… See all the darkness within me; fill it with your healing Light.  Look at my pain and all my fears; they shut out love and life…Protect me and free me; let me not live as unworthy, for I would return Home to you.” Those lines especially are my theme song for this Lent – not being ruled by fear and unworthiness, being filled with Light and Love and life. Because that’s where our true Home really is – in that “heart within my heart,” that “has been with me from the beginning, “companioning me” and “blessing me beyond measure!”

As we continue our journey into Lent, may each of us come more fully to love as God loves, and reflect God’s love and light more clearly as we realize more deeply how precious we are to the One who is our true Home.

February 02, 2024 by Anita Davidson 4 Comments
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Darlene Tucker
Darlene Tucker
2 months ago

Amen! Really needed to hear that. Thank you

Mary van Balen
Mary van Balen
2 months ago

Thank you, Anita, for bringing to this Psalm and Nan Merrill’s beautiful translation of it. I will use it for my Lent theme song as well! And thank you for your reflection. Your insight and wisdom has helped get my day off to a hopeful start. Blessings to you and your work!

Mary van Balen
Mary van Balen
2 months ago
Reply to  Mary van Balen

I meant to write “Thank you for bringing attention to this Psalm…” Sorry for the typo!

Eileen Bloomer
Eileen Bloomer
2 months ago

Thank you


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