November 25, 2009

Nov. 25: Walk the walk of covenant


By Paul Keim, professor of Bible and religion
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

Advent bursts in upon the autumnal rhythms of ordinary time. Fallen leaves, the last hurrah of overripe bounties, are rustled about by breezes and blowers. The nose of every sentient creature tingles with the scent of things to come. I invite you now to pause, and peer towards time’s first wrinkle.

Bent low beneath a seeker’s burden, a poet puts her pen to parchment. Life is pregnant with perplexity – who can but compose? A lament is poured into the acrostic mold, letter by letter, line by line. We crawl onto the backs of her inky words and are borne across sloughs of shame. Chased by shadows of doubt and other monsters of our own making. Can honor be retained, and dignity once lost regained? Can guilt be cleaned, and sins of youth redeemed?

Contrite. Seeking guidance. Humble to a fault when forced upon our knees. Complaint alone is not enough to lift us up. But interspersed with praise the hymnist’s cries resound and take effect. We mount her winged words and soar into the sanctuary, clinging to whatever confidence the sense of flight bestows upon an earthy race. Too drunk with vindication to perceive that all success is grace.

Dumbfounded, now we wait. And every hour’s infused with not-quite-yet. For those who walk the walk of covenant, all paths are hesed (faithfulness) and emet (truth). Teach on, lead forth, O LORD, make mindful of your ways. Break out in season, Ancient One of Days.


SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV)

Of David.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.



Comments (12)

  1. i found your web page yesterday.
    i enjoyed this first one and looking to being a part of your ministry
    amethodist christian

    mitchell jones November 25, 2009 |
    • Welcome Mitchell!

      Devotions Admin November 25, 2009 |
  2. This is one of the most beautiful Advent devotions I’ve ever read. It touched me deeply. Thank you..

    JoAnn Barbour November 25, 2009 |
  3. Beautiful! Many thanks.

    Jep Hostetler November 25, 2009 |
  4. From the opening line, I waited, anticipated every next line; I experienced advent in the reading, in the text, itself, of this beautifully penned devotional. It drove me to the Psalmist’s poem to read it with the same anticipation — and now, to read and reread both. Thanks, Paul

    Jim Brenneman November 25, 2009 |
  5. A beautiful crafting of words that pulled me not only into the devotional but the Psalms text that I have been pondering as well. So llife-giving! Thank you, Paul.

    Kathy Hochstedler November 25, 2009 |
  6. I sat down for a quick pause on this frantic day before Thanksgiving and discovered this uplifting, enlightening, and poignant mesage. Thank you for “restoring my soul” and giving me some blessed words to ponder. Thanks also for indirectly reminding me that tomorrow, no matter how busy it will be, I will start the day in church with prayer, lifted up by this reading.

    Jane November 25, 2009 |
  7. Wow, this is so incredibly beautiful and vivid in its depiction of so many facets of God and His grace. Thank you.

    Monique November 26, 2009 |
  8. Thank you for this amazing poem that engages the senses of body and soul.

    Ann Hostetler November 26, 2009 |
  9. This is very beautiful, very spiritual. Advent is my favorite liturgical season. I cherish reflections such as this one. Thank you!

    miranda rand November 26, 2009 |
  10. That is awesome!!

    Monica Leibacher LMT November 26, 2009 |
  11. The sentence,” Too drunk with vindication to perceive that all success is grace,” is giving me pause. It took me to the dictionary to review the meaning of the word ‘vindication’ because the definition in my mind (proven right) didn’t seem to fit. The definition, “Shown or proven to be right or reasonable,” is beginning to make sense as you apply it to success. Success is seen by my ego as proving that I am right in my action, thoughts. (better than others at its most extreme; capable in a more reasonable tenor) Being successful raises the value of my egoic realestate , until I realize that all success is indeed ‘grace.’ Thank you for that meaty morsel for meditation. I shall indeed keep it in my heart for continued pondering.

    anna friesen November 30, 2009 |