By the Rev. Vicki Garvey
Henry David Thoreau is credited with having remarked that “Many people go to their graves with the song still in them.” That would not be true of some of the characters we meet in our texts of the day.
To begin with, our psalmist is downright ebullient with thanks and praise. A song of thanksgiving for deliverance from some unnamed foes, it is a giddy sigh of release, a drawn out “aaahhh” beginning and ending with the assurance that God hangs in there with us no matter what. The psalmists, even the grittiest of the lamenters, were besotted with God. They were convinced that God cared and that there was a “Thou” out there not only ready, but eager to be in converse with people, no matter their mood or their virtue.
And that’s also at the heart of a portion of the good news that Paul has for his Roman congregants: “Christ died for the ungodly” he insists, and then seems to turn this awesome piece of news over in his mind, as an unnamed secretary tries to follow his thoughts. God proves that ‘steadfast love’ that the psalmist praised, Paul says, because Christ died not only for the heroically righteous or even for the casually pious, but for sinners as well. Good news, even great news for us who seem more comfortable ‘bewailing our manifold faults’ than believing that God loves us, is besotted with us.
Including with a David whose checkered career, though cleaned up for the Chronicler’s audience, must still have been remembered by them. David, sinner and saint, whom God chose and with whom God continued to abide even in David’s less ideal moments.
What’s the song in you that wants to be sung aloud? How do you give voice, as the psalmists do, to your excitement or remorse or pain or exaltation? Do you need a permission slip?
What does it mean to you that God loves you even on the days when you are your most curmudgeonly, unhelpful self?
God of love, teach us to see in those around us, as well as in ourselves, the image of yourself that you have planted there. Help us to live into it. Through the One who taught us the way, Jesus, your son and our brother. Amen.
The Rev. Vicki Garvey is Associate for Lifelong Christian Formation with the Diocese of Chicago.