Psalm 100

With my whole heart and mind, body and soul
I will make a joyful noise to God
I will worship God with gladness
And come into God’s presence with singing
I know that God is sovereign over all existence
Including my own
I know that God made me and I belong to God
I know that God claimed me for Her own
I, too, am a child in Her garden
So I enter God’s palace home with thanksgiving
And Her beautiful courts with praise
I give thanks to God and bless Her name
For God is good, always
Her steadfast love endures forever
Despite my own fickleness
Her faithfulness extends through all seasons of my life
Through all my twists and turns
In times of doubt and times of faith
In times of devotion and times of dryness
God’s faithfulness – TO ME – endures forever. Amen.

Psalm 91

Assurance of God’s Protection

Living in the shelter of the Most High
Abiding in the shadow of the Almighty
I will say to Her
“You are my refuge and my strength
My God in whom I trust”
For She will deliver me from the snare of my doubts
And from my deadly depression
She will cover my faults with Her righteousness
Under Her wings I will find refuge and hope
Her enduring faithfulness is my shield against hopelessness
I will not fear my night terrors
Nor my daily failings
Not my dark depression
Nor my blinding doubts
A thousand doubts may trouble me
Ten thousand failings may preoccupy me
But She will protect me
She will open my mind to hope, to love, to eternal life
Because I have made Her my refuge
The Most High my dwelling place
No evil will befall me, no doom will come near me
She commands Her angels to protect me, to guard me always
To bear me up when I am cast down
To keep me from tearing myself to bits
So I will trample all my doubts and darkness, depression and disasters
God has promised
Through steadfast love, She will deliver me
With enduring faithfulness, She will protect me
When I call to Her, when I cry out, She will answer
She is with me through all my troubles, big and small
She rescues me, saves me, redeems me
With eternal life, she will quiet all my anxious striving
And show me Her salvation. Amen.

Psalm 130 – once and again

Here I am again, God, crying to You,
Please listen, please help, please have mercy
I have failed again, of course
I smile outside while inside I am angry and disparaging
Disparaging: a new D in my firmament – my dark firmament of Ds
I know You forgive me quicker and more completely than I forgive myself
I know that is a fearfully, delightfully, wonderful thing
But does it help me? Will I be a better friend, mother, sister, daughter, lover
I wait for You, God, I wait and I hope
Right down to the bottom of my soul I wait, and I’ll go on waiting
Through my dark night, through my dark night
Hoping, trusting, believing that the morning of Your light will come
With Your steadfast love, with Your full redemption, with Your saving grace
You will redeem me from all my sins, my faults
I wait, I hope, I pray
I don’t suppose You could hurry it up a bit, could You? Amen.
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Psalm 130 – again

Despite my dark doubts and confusion
Once again, I come crying to You, God
Hoping You exist, hoping You will hear me
Hoping You will help me
Because if You don’t, who will, who can
I’m scared, I’m getting everything wrong again
I feel hopeless
Until I remember You, until I hope in You
Until I remember Your forgiveness
Your steadfast love, You unfailing faithfulness
And so I have to wait, wait with hope for You
But it’s so hard to just wait
Wait through this darkness
Wait through this doubt
Wait through this confusion
Wait for Your light to show me the way
The way, the truth, the life
Wait with hope, and belief in Your steadfast love
Your great power to help me, to save me
Because I am Israel and You are my God and Savior. Amen.

Psalm 92

A song for the Sabbath

I will give thanks and sing praise to my Sovereign God, the Most High
I will remember and declare God’s steadfast love in my youth
God’s enduring faithfulness in my old age
With music and song, with prayer and reverence, I will give praise
My joy and my gladness are all God’s work, God’s great work in my life
Too great for my limited understanding
Though I struggle, though I doubt, though I fail again and again
God will prevail
I am saved, forever
Despite my struggles, despite my doubt, despite my failings
God succeeds, forever
And so I am saved and favored, a child of God, my Lady Wisdom
Destined for good, not evil
Destined for love, not hate
Destined for peace, not conflict
Destined for hope, not despair
Destined to flourish as God’s good seed grows in me
And bears good fruit, even as I age
Maybe especially as I age
Because God is good, my gardener, my rock
My savior, my righteousness, my Lady Wisdom. Amen.

The Last Shall Be…

The gospel reading today was Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the generous vineyard owner. As I listened to the Lector reading the parable, another story came to life in my head.

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What does it take for a person to change? Do you ever wonder what happened to those workers, the lucky ones who worked one hour and were paid a full day’s wages…

I wake late, as usual, and with a splitting headache, a dry mouth, a foggy memory of the night before. How many beers? How many shooters? Did I drive home? How late was it?

Damn all that noise – Joy and the kids clattering and squabbling through breakfast. Just a little while and Joy will be off to work, the kids to school and the world will stop bothering me.

She will be mad again. Please God, let her just leave without a lecture. I am so goddam sick and tired of her lectures, so tired of making promises I know I won’t keep. Goddammit, why can’t she understand that I need to relax after work, I need to be with the guys and the guys want to be at the bar. Does she expect me to be a hermit? A man needs friends. I bet George’s wife doesn’t ride him about his drinking.

Footsteps come down the hall. I pull the covers up, turn on my side, close my eyes. I don’t respond as she opens the door and calls my name…don’t respond to her loud sigh…don’t respond as she shuts the bedroom door, almost slamming it.

When I wake again, much later, I pull on my boxers and lurch to the kitchen to grab a can of beer, some bread and baloney from the fridge, and head to the family room to find that game show with the long-legged blonde.

Early afternoon, I get dressed. Why shower when I am going out to try to get work? I’ll just get dirty; I can shower tonight.

George and Joe are already at the work center when I get there. We stand around, smoking, talking a bit, exchanging nods and a few words with the other men. Then, just as I am about to head back home, grateful and ashamed to have spent another day not working, already rehearsing my story for Joy, some guy pulls up in a big van and hires me, George, Joe and a bunch of others to work in his vineyard for that last hour of the work day.

Lots of men are already working, practically sweating grape juice and dirt; some have been in those fields all day. We work just one hour then, at the end of the day, everyone gets paid the same. Joe, George and I couldn’t help grinning at each other; we made out like bandits! But, man, were those who had been working all day pissed off!

“What kind of shit is this? We busted our balls in your vineyard all day and you give these jerks, these one-hour wonders, the same pay?”

The guy who hired us didn’t give a shit about their complaining.

“Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”*

First thing I do is call Joy, tell her I’m taking her and the kids to Mickey Ds for dinner. But with all that money, much more than I counted on, I realize I have enough for a few drinks. I put $20 for drinks in my right pocket and the rest, for Joy and the family, in my left. Then I head for the bar with Joe and George. We need to celebrate our good luck.

I wake late, as usual, and with a splitting headache, a dry mouth, a foggy memory of the night before. How many beers? How many shooters? Did I drive home? How late was it?

There was no money for Joy and the family. There was no family – just a note on the kitchen table. Joy had left and taken the kids.

Damn that man. If he had hired us at the beginning of the day, I would have been too tired to go to the bar. If he had just paid us for an hour’s work, I would have been too broke. This is all his fault.

Now that the family has stopped bothering me, now that I don’t have to make excuses or feel guilty…What the hell am I supposed to do now?


*Matthew 20:13-15

Psalm 93

The majesty of God’s rule

The Almighty is sovereign, robed in majesty, stronger than death
She created me, all of me
And is with me always
In darkness and despair
No less than in light and joy
My emotions flood me
My wants drown out my peace
My fears thunder
My disappointments rage
But mightier than these is the Almighty, my God
Almighty God, Wisdom Woman, Your decrees are sure peace
Living with awareness of You is holiness forevermore. Amen

Psalm 93 – Again

God is sovereign, in majesty and strength
Creator of all, creator of me
And it is all good, secure forever and good
Except it is not
Evil exists
What we call sin exists
Separating us from good
Inside me and all around me
And I don’t understand that
(But Paul says nothing can separate us from God’s steadfast love)
Because God is mightier than evil, stronger than sin
Forever
Bigger, better, greater, more powerful
Than the floods of doubt, depression, despair, darkness
That roar high and overwhelm me
More powerful is my God, my Lady Wisdom
But still, still, those floods come
Overwhelming my good, my faith
Yet I am called to believe
Despite all evidence to the contrary
That God’s commands are supreme
That God’s own holiness is mine
Forever. Amen (and sigh)