Release your fears and embrace hope, this advent and until Christ comes again.
In Advent we are doing a particular kind of waiting. We are remembering Christ’s first coming and waiting, preparing, and hoping for the second coming. We are waiting for what has already happened and what will happen again. We are waiting and preparing for Christ to enter our lives once again.
For me, the joyful Christmas noise seems to arrive earlier and play louder each year. It is easy to be distracted by the light twinkling, gift wrapping, cookie baking, carol singing, and if I’m honest anxiety producing extravaganza that is the holiday season. I like Christmas, but I look forward to the first week of advent when we gather as a faithful community to remind ourselves that Advent is a season of waiting and listening. It is a season when we lift up our souls to the one who loves us most to be cleansed of sin, freed from fear, and guided towards hope, peace, love, and joy.
So, in the spirit of intentional quite prayer, soul lifting, and holy listening, I want to read psalm 25 as Nan C. Merrill has shaped it into a prayer.
To You, O Love, I lift up my soul! O Heart within my heart, In you I place my trust. Let me not feel unworthy; Let not fear rule over me. Yes! May all who open their hearts Savor You and bless the earth! Compel me to know your ways, O Love; Instruct me upon your paths. Lead me in your truth, And teach me, For through You will I know Wholeness; I shall reflect your Light Both day and night. I know of your mercy, Blessed One, And of your unconditional Love; You have been with me From the beginning. Forgive the many times I have walked away from You Choosing to follow my own will. I seek your guidance, once again, I yearn to know your Peace. Companion me as I open to your Will! You are gracious and just, O Spirit of Truth, Happy to guide those Who miss their way; You enjoy teaching all who are open, All who choose to live in truth. Your paths are loving and sure, O Holy One, and Those who give witness to You Through their lives Are blessed beyond measure. Yet, all too often glorious gifts Of Grace, of Love, and Light, Are veiled by my busyness. I bow down before You; Instruct me, that I might choose The way of love and truth. I would live in your abundant Love, And my children as well. Your friendship is offered to all Whose hearts are open; You make known your promises To them. My eyes are ever on You, Beloved, Keep my feet from stumbling Along the way. Turn to me, O Holy One, and envelope me With your love, for I am lonely and oppressed. Relieve the blocks in my heart That keep me separated from You; See all the darkness within me; Fill it with your healing Light. Look at my pain and all my fears; They shut out love and life. Protect me and free me; Let me not live as unworthy, For I would return Home to You. May integrity and wholeness fill me As I dwell in You, O Loving Presence. May we, together with the angels And the company of heaven, Help unfold your Plan For planet Earth.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Breath Prayer: If you are new to breath prayer I’ve recorded some examples.
Here are some simple breath prayers to accompany this psalm:
Meditate on peace
A simple prayer with one word on exhalation and one on inhalation: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your wisdom and release my worry.
Or you can split a longer phrase between inhalation and exhalation or put a phrase on both. Here is an example: Love is my birthright. I can listen to my heart
Do what is most comfortable to you. Breath prayer is a practice not something we do perfectly. Some days will be easier than others.
Ok, everyone, take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom. It is a practice I have continued since. Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C. Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others. While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A. In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B. Advent of 2021 follows year C of lectionary pattern with Psalms in year C.
I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.
Other Year C Psalm blog posts:
Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 25, 2nd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Luke 1:68-79, 3rd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Isaiah 12:2-6, 4th Sunday in Advent Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 35, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 19, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 71, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 138, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 1, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 37, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 99
Lent: Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 91, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 27, 3rdSunday in Lent Psalm 63, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 126, 6th Sunday in Lent (Palm or Passion Sunday) Psalm 118 or 31
Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Maundy Thursday Psalm 116, Good Friday Psalm 22, Holy Saturday Psalm 31
Easter: Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 150, 3rdSunday of Easter Psalm 30, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 148, 6thSunday of Easter Psalm 67, Ascension Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 97, Day of Pentecost Psalm 104
Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time): 1st Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 or Psalm 22, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 77 or Psalm 16, 4th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 30 or Psalm 66, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 82 or Psalm 25, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 52 or Psalm 15, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 85 or Psalm 138, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 49, 9thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 50 or Psalm 33, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 80 or Psalm 82, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 71 or Psalm 103, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 81 or Psalm 112, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 1, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 14 or Psalm 51, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 113, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 146, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 137 or Psalm 37, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 66 or Psalm 111, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 121, 20thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 65 or Psalm 84, 21st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 32, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 145 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 98, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 46.
Sources and notes:
“Psalm 25 offers a model of prayer and a model of living that are increasingly difficult to appreciate or even to comprehend in the midst of a secular culture that promotes self-actualization, self-sufficiency, and instant gratification. Instead of living for self, the psalmist prays, and that prayer is an offering of his or her life to God (v.1; see Rom 12:12). Instead of depending on self an personal resources, the psalmist depends on God in trust, finding security or refuge in God (vv. 2, 20). Instead of seeking instant gratification, the psalmist is content to what for God (vv. 3, 5, 20) in the confidence that being related to God is the essence of fullness of life (vv. 5, 12-15, 21). For the psalmist, prayer is not a way to pursue what one wants. Rather, it is a means to seek God’s ways (vv. 4-5, 8-9, 12): “They will be done.”” NIB p. 374
“The metaphor portrays prayer as an act in which individuals hold their conscious identity, their life, in hands stretched out to God as a way of saying that their life depends completely and only on the help of God.” Mays p. 124
“The psalm is among those in which first person singular style has a corporate dimension. The prayer is the voice of an individual whose troubles and hopes are those of the whole people. It leads individuals to pray in solidarity with the whole people of God, an date congregation to pray in the unity of an individual identity.” Mays p. 125
“The arrangement of the psalm’s first lines follows the order of the Hebrew alphabet. …. The petitions for the LORD to be the teacher of the one who prays use virtually every available verb in the vocabulary of instruction. …. The device has been used to the poet’s purpose to read a genuine and poignant prayer that gathers up the needs and hopes of the people who live in the midst of opposition to their faith, fearing the dangers of history, aware of their sinfulness, but trusting in the LORD and living out of hope in the LORD’s salvation.” Mays pp. 125-156
“This is one of the psalms that sees clearly that the torah of the LORD, his instruction of those who fear him, is part of God’s saving work and completes the salvation of liberation and justification with sanctification” Mays p. 127
“The psalm taught Israel to seek the grace and salvation given in the torah. It teaches the church to pray fro the Spirit to bring into our lives not only the power an mercy of God but as well a being-taught the way we are to live through the knowledge of God’s ways with us.” Mays p. 127
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.
W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020.
W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.
Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.