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Archive for January 23rd, 2014

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

…even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

Reflection:  The verses above are for the appointed Psalm for today in the Daily Lectionary, Psalm 139: 1-6, 12-14.  Yesterday was the March for Life in Washington, D.C. upon the sad 41st year of the Supreme Court’s usurping judgment of Roe vs. Wade.

The sonograms of our oldest child, 22 years ago, when this technology was relatively new was one of the reasons I changed my mind on pro-choice.  When my wife heard the good news from the doctor that she was with child, her first question to my wife was: “What do you want to do?”  Thumbs up or thumbs down like an every day Caesar in a physician’s office, a place of life, now a coliseum of death.  I saw the sonograms and  I knew I was not looking at “fetal tissue”.

Long before our technology, the inspired psalmist saw by faith through God’s Word the image of the womb, knitted together in his mother’s womb.  I should have trusted Scripture, God’s Word first and foremost.  I think abortion was preceded by the deadly  vivisection that too many Biblical scholars have done to God’s Word, continually asking the serpent’s question, Did God say…?  This happened at the same time as Christians and non-Christians began to want to do the most selfish act of the old Adam:  kill a child in the womb.  The combination is toxic.

Now the whole of Psalm 139 can of course be prayed.  In verse 19, there is challenge for the tender sensibilities of post-modern men and women, a sudden change in mood from the sublime prayer of thanksgiving and adoration to the Lord:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!

The psalmist prays for the destruction of God’s enemies.  Rabbi Aiden Steinsaltz in his essay, “Dissonance in the Psalms” takes up this ‘radical’ change of mood in more than Psalm 139 alone.  He notes this “dissonance” but after the inspired psalmist sees the order and harmony of God the Creator in all things, then evil and sin and wickedness just do not fit in, it is abhorrent, perverse.  Just think of so-called doctor, Kermit Gosnell this past year which showed the true nature of an abortuary.   O men of blood, depart from me! It is the so-called ‘enlightened’ scientific man or woman who says in so many ways wickedness does fit in, such as abortion, infanticide, state-sponsored limits on family size, physician assisted suicide. The psalmist cries out for a separation from them.

“They are described…as enemies of God. That is their danger!  They are part of the society in which the psalmist lives who by their moral and religious conduct oppose and ignore God.  To be willfully an enemy of God is unthinkable to the psalmist, but there the wicked are, the embodiment of another way than the fear of the LORD, conditioning and endangering the whole society  by their character.  (Psalms:  Commentary by Dr. James Luther Mays, Interpetation series)

They are obviously unrepentant, though the Lord desires such for us all that all might be saved. God’s will is our hope…for our continuing repentance as well. The psalmist has seen by faith the wonders of the Lord in his own creation which is as your creation: you too are faithfully and wonderfully made…and so are the wicked!  Then the fullness of time, God is carried in the Virgin’s womb. Wonderful are your works;  my soul knows it very well.

 Let us pray…We come to you Father with praise and thanksgiving, not as we ought, but as we are able. We beg you to accept and bless the prayer we offer you. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Lord, in your mercy, R.: hear our prayer.

Remember, Lord, Your one, holy, Christian and apostolic church. Watch over her and guide her. Grant her peace and unity throughout the whole world. Grant her to speak with one voice and act with unity of purpose upholding Your gift of life, and working for an end to the scourge of legalized murder. We pray especially for Matthew and all the leaders of our Synod; for all pastors, and every servant of the Church. Grant that they may be steadfast in Your Word. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, all who bear witness to the sanctity of life. Guard them, we pray, from the attacks of Satan and give them patient strength in the face of opposition. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, those who work in crisis pregnancy centers. Remember those doctors and nurses who work with pregnant women. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember those women who are struggling with their pregnancies. Give them strength and sustenance to care for their children, and grant us grace to offer them our love and support. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, all women who are barren. Remember those parents who grieve the untimely loss of their little ones. Give to them that peace which the world cannot give. Lord, in your mercy, R.

Remember, Lord, our enemies. Turn their hearts toward the truth, and give us a genuine love for them. Forgive them their sins, for they know not what they do. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, how once You sent Your Son to save our lost and fallen race. We commend to Your tender compassion all the millions of innocents who have been destroyed by abortion and other crimes, together with all those who are now suffering in body or soul. Grant them your mercy and a happy issue out of their afflictions. Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Remember, Lord, those women who have had abortions and are now burdened with guilt and grief.  Grant them Your peace.Lord, in your mercy, R.

[Insert Additional Petitions Here]

Remember, Lord, all Your people who are gathered here before You, our living and true God. We pray for our well-being and redemption. Grant us Your peace in this life and a place in the world to come, through Christ our Lord. Lord, in your mercy, R.

With the whole Church we honor Mary, the virgin Mother of Jesus, our Lord and God.  We honor Joseph her husband. We honor the apostles, evangelists, prophets, confessors, martyrs and all the saints. Grant us grace to follow the pattern of their lives in faith and service, Lord, in your mercy, R. 

Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.

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