by Jennifer DiFrancesco
May You, the God of sacred justice, stir our own hearts to seek it. Amen.
(from @ELCAYoungAdults on a tweetchat #coloringfaith on June 19, 2015)
Scripture: Psalm 130 (Common English Bible)
I cry out to you from the depths, Lord—
my Lord, listen to my voice!
Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
If you kept track of sins, Lord—
my Lord, who would stand a chance?
But forgiveness is with you—
that’s why you are honored.
I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
and I wait for God’s promise.
My whole being waits for my Lord—
more than the night watch waits for morning;
yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
Israel, wait for the Lord!
Because faithful love is with the Lord;
because great redemption is with our God!
He is the one who will redeem Israel
from all its sin.
One of the worship communities I co-lead, The Slate Project, is spending this season after Pentecost talking about #EveryDayProphets. Prophets speak truth to power, and they name sin and brokenness in the communities around them. Prophets assert that situations and circumstances need to change. Prophets name the corporate and individual sins.
If you spend anytime googling Protestant church bulletins and reading the “Confession” section, it won’t take long to discover that most churches are good at calling out individual wrongs, like walking past the homeless person or gossiping, but few call out our systemic sins. Systemic sins are present and often harder to name: gender bias, economic inequality, and racism are a few. I confess that systemic sins are hard to name and accept. As a white educated female, there are systems from which I benefit and systems against which I struggle. I admit the topic of systemic sin makes for a hard discussion with children. However, if we don’t have these conversations or discussions with our kids, who will?
What I like and appreciate about this Psalm is that we aren’t left to merely confess and admit our sins. We know that God invites us to repent, to literally “turn around.” God invites us to acknowledge our brokenness and turn our hearts and ears; God will forgive us. Though, I admit that sometimes we want to rush and jump from part 1 to part 3, skipping the part about turning our lives and behaviors around. The turning part is the hardest, but also the most important and necessary.
Questions to Spark Discussion
-Why is it so hard to be fair?
-Are there times when forgiveness is especially easy? Especially difficult?
-Who are the people in your life who seem to be the most merciful or fair? Why?
-What are some ways we can show mercy to people who may be sinning against us?
Sins build up walls. Take Legos (or blocks) and as you name personal and community sins, stack the blocks. After the wall is built, talk about way you can tear down the wall. What actions can you take? What changes can you make that will affect change? As you name these actions, take one of your blocks down that formed your wall. Ask God to help you tear down walls, to give you courage to confess your wrongs and speak out against the wrongs you see in your community.