As we say good-bye to 2012

31 Dec

It seems appropriate that as we are getting ready to leave 2012 that the next psalm in line is Psalm 51.  This psalm is used every Ash Wednesday when we prepare to enter our Lenten disciplines.  Yet, I think it is also a good way to say good-bye to an old year.  The writer asks God to wipe his life clean – to begin again in God’s grace.

1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

I believe what the psalmists says in verse 4.  That when we do hurtful things the one we are violating is God.  Even when we hurt our own bodies through destructive choices, it is truly God who is hurt.  God knows us fully, loves us a parent, and can give us a wonderful life, if we can get in step with God.  Of course, as the psalmist says, there are times I have felt like I was wrong since before I was born.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

When we allow God full access to our broken lives, so that God is invited to see the absolute truth, then God can help us to conceive a new, true life.  You see, I think that God does know all about our lives.  But, unless we are willing to ‘join God on the tour our lives’. then we cannot see the reality of our life’s choices.  We must rely on God to show us the truth, ‘scrub us’ until we are clean, and then often the new possibilities of life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

The response to God’s cleaning and healing of our lives is PRAISE.  I love the image in verses 16-17.  The psalmist talks of the God-worship they learned when pride was shattered.  I know in my live, it is when I had nothing else to stand on, that I really understood the power of God’s grace for my life and knew anything I had on my own was a poor shadow next to God.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

One of the sermon image I remember about how a plants get fed.  That is the soil is hard then the plant cannot receive the basic need of water; it runs off and away from the plant’s roots.  It is only when the soil is broken and open that the water can reach the roots to feed the plant.  So it is with our hearts,  unless we have ‘heart-shattered lives’ we cannot receive the nurishment God has for us.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

I pray you will open your lives and hearts and minds this night.  To give all the old hurts and wounds and bad decisions of 2012 over to God for healing and redemption.  With God looking at all of our lives, we can find new hope and creative possibilities for 2013.

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