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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, September 17, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 14

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
   there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
   to see if there are any who are wise,
   who seek after God.

They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
   there is no one who does good,
   no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
   who eat up my people as they eat bread,
   and do not call upon the Lord?

There they shall be in great terror,
   for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
   but the Lord is their refuge.

O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
   When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
   Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad. (NRSV)

I admit, I struggled at first with what to say when I was given this psalm to write about. Each time I read through it, my initial thought was “Yeah . . . they [fill in the blank with political/thought opposite] are corrupt and vile. It’s them, not me. I’m not the problem.” I may even have felt a little smug. That didn’t seem like the basis for a good devotional.

It took several readings to get past that. Once I did, the verse “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt” started to sink in. All. Together. And I realized that it’s not just them. It’s us. It’s me.

This spring I had the privilege and the challenge of participating in the antiracism training for new officers at Fourth Presbyterian Church. I don’t think of myself as racist, but through the course of the training I came to understand how the political and societal systems I am part of perpetuate institutional racism. Likewise, the institutional and political corruption of our society involves me as well. I am in the all, in the together, and as a Christian my job is to work to get out of this together with all Christians, too.

When I was young, as a Calvinette (think a Christian Reformed version of Girl Scouts), we memorized Micah 6:8: “But what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” When summed up like this, it seems pretty straightforward. But working for justice and against corruption and racism is much more difficult as an adult. It calls for standing up and speaking out against injustice. As an introvert, I find this particularly challenging. But Psalm 14 is also clear that “God is in the presence of the righteous,” and I will have to trust that he will give me what I need to work for justice.

Lord God, it’s so easy for me to think about corruption and racism in terms of them. Continue to open my eyes to the me in the institutional injustices of the world and to act accordingly. In your name alone. Amen.

Written by Lisa Stracks, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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