Reflections on the Readings for the First Sunday of Lent, Year B

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Shaped by the Word       

Reading: Psalm 25

Scripture: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.”  (Psalm 25: 4 -5)

Reflection: Growing up in rural Jamaica with two brothers who were sometimes the bane of my existence, my parents were often called upon to be peacemakers and to settle disputes. I was full of angst, when my mother staged an intervention. On my 13th birthday, she gave me a diary (pink, with a lock and key and the words ‘Be Still’ on the cover) and suggested I write down my thoughts and feelings about people and events in my life – my parents, my brothers, my fears, disappointments, frustrations, despair, anger, sorrow, shame, ambition, longings, guilt, hopes, loss, success, gratitude, love and joy – no matter how negative they were. I must admit I was sceptical at first, but, reading those entries decades later, I realised that although they were raw, honest and heartfelt, they represented the clearest expression of how I felt in situations I could neither control nor fully understand, at the time.

In the psalms, we see psalmists pour out their love and longing for God, as well as their guilt, fear, desperation, frustration, sorrow, faith and hope. From them we learn how feelings are shaped and re-shaped through prayers and praise and how God wants us to relate to Him as His children.  

Psalm 25 is a prayer of faith; it highlights the goodness of God and provides guidance on what we can do when we are, lonely, sad or in trouble. It  begins with a ready-made prayer composed by the psalmist, not just for himself, but for anyone seeking help from God. And, in the midst of a plea for help, there is an admission  of trust. We, like the psalmist, know that in the darkest and deepest moments of our lives, God never abandons us. When we feel guilty about succumbing to our temptations, we pray to God for help to not dwell on them, aware that when we do so, we make them more important than they deserve.  

In verses 4 and 5, we find a prayer we can use when our lives are unstable, turbulent and uncertain.  “Make me know your ways; teach me your paths; lead me in your truth…for you are the God of my salvation.” We bravely call on God to forget our youthful indiscretions and our transgressions, secure in the knowledge that we are not defined by how often we fail. The psalmist reminds that those of us who are shaped by God’s Word and who trust in the goodness of God, can be confident about what He  can do in and through us. His Word should not be read quickly like a newspaper or a post on social media,  but should resonate within our own lives and bear fruit. The paths of the Lord are “steadfast love and faithfulness” as long as we remember that they come from our God who loves us.

All these many years later, I still maintain a journal – although the entries are more sporadic. I still record my thoughts and feelings about my life experiences, including any specific prayer requests, but with added notations such as how and when God responded and expressions of my own thankfulness and praise. When I finally shared with my mother the measure of comfort and clarity  those entries brought me, she simply said, “dark musings often end in praise.”

Meditation: The Bible is the living Word of God. We should not treat it like an app on our smart phones or as an article on a website to be hastily skimmed over or a 30-minute documentary on television  easily forgotten. 

Prayer: O Lord, may we always be mindful of Your gracious mercy and of Your steadfast love. Lord, make us receptive to the shaping purpose of Your Word in all circumstances of life.  Amen.

The St. Jude’s Writers

St. Jude’s Church

Stony Hill

Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands

23 February 2021