Week of February 6, 2013

Dr. Todd B. Jones

My Dear Friends, 

We are standing on the threshold of Lent, that forty-day period of waiting and preparation for the wonder of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which this year is on February 13. For the Lenten season we will be spending Sunday mornings focusing upon Psalm 130. I have selected it for a number of reasons. First, it is one of seven penitential Psalms, and Lent is a season of penitence as we prepare our hearts and lives for Holy Week. Secondly, it is a Psalm that is perhaps less well known than some, but one that speaks “out of the depths.” Live long enough as a human being and you find yourself in the depths, and this Psalm provides wisdom and words for us to speak from life’s deepest, darkest places. Third, Psalm 130 is a theologically powerful Psalm, encompassing and speaking to the human dilemma, offering to us the heart of the Gospel, which is forgiveness and speaking as well along the way of prayer, of the human experience of waiting and ending on words that speak of the very character of the God to which we cry when life finds us in the depths. Finally, Psalm 130 is just plain beautiful, as the Lord our God is beautiful. Byron said, “Beauty is the handmaiden of truth.” The poetry of this Psalm can bless your life, and its beauty can take you places where God can be heard more clearly.

Theodore Beza, the Swiss Reformer, asked that this Psalm be read to him on his death bed. Martin Luther loved this Psalm so much that one of his best known hymns was based upon Psalm 130. And John Wesley heard this Psalm sung by the choir in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London when his soul was in turmoil, and hearing this Psalm was prelude for Wesley to having “his heart strangely warmed” in the Aldersgate room where his life was forever changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We shall consider this profound Psalm verse by verse during Lent, considering what its words and thoughts might mean to our own lives along the way. I promise you that if you decide to journey with us through this Lenten season, you will come to love this Psalm and in coming to know it will find your life blessed and deepened.

Abraham Lincoln said that many times he was led to his knees in the knowledge that he had nowhere else left to go. Jesus himself offered a model for us of crying out to God out of the depths in his own experience, both in the Garden of Gethsemane and from Good Friday’s cross. Paul besought the Lord three times concerning his “thorn in the flesh.” To be a person of faith, or a person who struggles with faith, is to find yourself crying out to God. The Psalmist speaks for us even as he offers to us God’s Living Word.

I pray you will join your church family in this Lenten journey as we listen to the life giving, forgiving, transforming power of God’s Word as it is proclaimed through Psalm 130. While it starts “out of the depths,” it leads us to the promise that “with the Lord there is steadfast love and with Him there is plenteous redemption and He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquity.” This is Good News, dear friends! And it is finally reason for us to live with hope, even when we find ourselves crying out of the depths. 

With Love and Prayers, 

Todd Jones

 

 

 

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