by Rev. Arianne Braithwaite Lehn
Scripture: Psalm 25:1-10
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
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;
for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.” – Psalm 25:1-2
I was a little girl when my grandfather – “Grandpa Dick” – left for Malawi. For about a year, he worked with the Presbyterian Church of Lilongwe. When he returned, he brought back beautiful things and beautiful stories, like the African nativity set we will pull out during Advent in a week or the memories of the people he met. Though Grandpa Dick didn’t become fluent in Chichewa (one of the native languages), he learned bits and pieces. I remember him teaching me the meaning of “faith” in Chichewa was a deep form of trust. In fact, the literal meaning was “to put all of one’s weight upon something.”
Grandpa Dick compared it to sitting in a chair. When you sit, you trust and rely on that chair to hold you up – to keep you from falling and hurting yourself. You really can’t put only part of your weight down (unless you want a hard workout for your quad muscles).
This is the kind of faith, the kind of trust, of which the Psalmist speaks in lifting her soul to God. I picture a person taking his or her heart and placing it in God’s hands, trusting that God will hold and care for whatever is in that heart. God will not let anything slip through God’s fingers.
Psalm 25 begins with this image of giving all of one’s life to God and trusting (or putting all of one’s weight) on the promises of God’s goodness and love. Later, the Psalmist prays that she would know God’s ways, asking that God would teach her which way to go. She asks God to forget what’s happened before or where she’s made mistakes, and to now give her a fresh start as she heads down the path God has for her. She places all of her life on that promise.
The season of Advent beginning on Sunday is an invitation for this kind of fresh start, and Psalm 25 is a perfect prayer with which to start our journey toward Christmas. You and I are given the opportunity to place our full trust – everything in our heart – into God’s hands as we walk and wait. We trust that the most beautiful and powerful promise of all – Jesus – is coming to change and heal our lives.
Family Discussion/Spiritual Practices
-Have each person in your family sit down in chair. Notice how the chair holds you up, how it feels beneath you and how solid its support is. As you sit, talk about what it would be mean to put all of your life’s “weight” on God. Compare the reassurance and stability of the chair to the peace and security we feel when we are trusting God. Next, stand up from the chair and try “sitting” (for you yoga masters, it’s chair pose) with no chair beneath you. How long do you think you can hold it? Talk about how much harder it is when we are trying to hold our lives up on our own, rather than placing our trust in God.
-Take out some paper and crayons or markers, and draw a picture of a heart in a set of hands. Surrounding the heart, write some words of the things you are having a hard time trusting God with. Put it on the refrigerator, and let it be a reminder to pray the memory verse and give God your full trust throughout this Advent season.
We give our
and whole trust,
Rev. Arianne Braithwaite Lehn is a mother, one half of a clergy couple, writer, and ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA). She blogs at www.ariannebraithwaitelehn.com.