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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 9, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 85:1–2, 8–13

Lord, you were favorable to your land;
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
   you pardoned all their sin.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
   for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful,
   to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
   righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
   and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
   and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
   and will make a path for his steps. (NRSV)

Have you ever had a moment when you were confronted by the unknown? Perhaps it was a phone call you needed to make to offer an apology or accept one. Maybe it was someone you were to meet for the first time, not knowing what to expect. In such moments, it may prove easier to brace ourselves for either a letdown or an attack, to expect that we’ll come out wounded. But what if the reaction were wholly different from what we expected? What if instead of accusation, reproach, or anger, we received words and gestures of peace.

Such is the response God offers in this passage in response to the people of Judah. The peace God has on offer is forgiveness and restoration. I’m not speaking here of forgetting. True forgiveness after all requires truth-telling. Rather, God’s forgiveness turns the page and brings a fresh offer of hope. Such forgiveness has a quality that makes it distinct in a world where so many decisions and choices seem to mark us forever. There seemingly are no do-overs. But the God of the psalmist suggests that such a fatalistic outlook does not have the last word. There is always room for redemption—not just for ourselves but for all people.

Here we are not just told of God’s forgiveness. It is richly and evocatively described. The psalmist paints a picture of fruitfulness, fecundity, and loving embrace filled with all the prime ingredients, like righteousness, faithfulness, and salvation. It is no mere concept but as real as the very ground we walk upon, declaring to us this day that whatever has befallen us, whatever wrongs have occurred on our watch, whatever shortcomings have been displayed in our relationships to one another, God forgives and redeems.

God, how magnificent is the vision of redemption you offer. Through our receiving and accepting forgiveness, help us make your grace real to one another today. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Associate Pastor-Elect for Evangelism and Community Engagement

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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