Lectionary readings for today:
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgement with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, O Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me
on a level path.
For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.
In your steadfast love cut off my enemies,
and destroy all my adversaries,
for I am your servant.
I recently read an article arguing that the language of worship can make us feel lonely. If the prayers and hymns are all about “me and my Jesus”, one might wonder why we bother to sit alongside others people when we worship. I generally try to be mindful of pronouns in worship (admittedly, not because I was worried you all would feel lonely), but because I feel strongly about worship as an act of the community. We gather to worship God, and we pray together, and we listen for God’s Word and we are sent out to bear the good news to the world. We celebrate that we are the body of Christ, so our worship should reflect and embody that shared mission.
Having so recently read that article, I was struck by the language of this psalm. Like so many psalms, it is unapologetically personal: “Hear my prayer”, “answer me”, “teach me”, “save me”, “you are my God”.
We do worship as a community. But psalms like this are earnest prayers. They come from a deep place within us that is calling out to God. And we all know that it is so often when we are in our worst states of sadness, anxiety and grief that we feel most alone. It is hard to speak of a “we” when we feel the stresses and trials of life piling up on us. The psalms name that feeling of isolated despair, but they also declare a firm faith in God’s presence.
So as you go through this day, whatever it may hold, know that you are always surrounded by God’s presence.
Holy God, we proclaim that nothing can ever separate us from your love, but sometimes we are very good at separating ourselves from one another. Help me – help us – to always trust in your presence and lean on each other, so we truly know we are never alone. Amen.