Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday of the first week of Lent

Psalm 50      Deuteronomy 9:23–10:5      Hebrews 4:1-10      John 3:16-21

Deuteronomy tells about the persistent God who shows love for the people by refashioning the tablets of the law after the first set is destroyed. Psalm 50 encourages us to think about listening to God’s word and letting it shape our own utterances. God always has a word for us: “The mighty one, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth. . . . Our God comes and does not keep silent. . . . The heavens declare his righteousness. . . . Hear, O my people, and I will speak.”  

A passage that is both humorous and lyrical even tells us what God does not say:  “If I were hungry, I would not tell you . . . ,” for “every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” 

Instead, God calls for expressions of gratitude (“a sacrifice of thanksgiving”), prayerful trust (“call on me in the day of trouble”), and heartfelt praise (“you shall glorify me”). The last seven verses of the psalm are a critique of human speech, first for our unfitness to speak for God (“. . . to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant upon your lips?”) and then for the harm we do to ourselves and each other through deceitful and slanderous speech. “You give your mouth free rein for evil. . . . I have been silent; you thought I was one just like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.” 

Even as we fall short, God reaches out with a fruitful word. The message is echoed in the reading from Hebrews, which quotes Psalm 95 (a familiar part of our Anglican liturgy of Morning Prayer):   “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 

— Vickie Gottlob

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