Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

A few days ago I was visiting with a friend who had just received some very bad news about his heart.  He confided in me that he had been a heavy smoker and heavy drinker of alcohol all his life.  He expressed his regret and his desperation at what was now about to happen to him and his family. “Remember me before God” he asked and I promised to do that on a daily basis as I led the Daily Office.  In his lament and desperateness my friend has found himself “up against” a wall with no place to turn but to God.

Today, I am sharing the Daily Devotion  published  by the Living Church Foundation and edited by the Reverend Emily R. Hylden as it strikes a very similar theme by examining the teachings of Psalm 38.  My friend and I recited Psalm 38  along with one of my favorites Psalm 62 whose haunting “For God alone my soul in silence waits” to me has always struck a cord which aligns our priorities in life perfectly.

The Devotion with its meditation by Fr. Gahan and art by Theophilos  Papadopoulos titled “Monastery Doors”  may serve as some comfort and provide insight for all  who are facing life and death situations.

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
Theophilos Papadopoulos/Flickr
God’s Creeps
Daily Devotional • May 25
By the Rev. Patrick Gahan

“The creep!” Bishop Willimon yelled out from the den as he was watching TV. An executive who had been indicted for swindling millions of dollars from his company and its employees was clutching a Bible and publicly confessing his sin to television viewers everywhere. “Is there no limit to his hypocrisy? Can you believe this?”

As she passed through the den, Willimon’s wife, Patsy, replied, “It’s unbelievable the sort of creeps Jesus is willing to forgive. Even more incredible the sort of creeps Jesus commands us to be church with.”

There is something creepy about the poet’s confession in Psalm 38. He is physically sick and at the end of his rope, with nowhere to turn but Godward. “Your arrows (O God) have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me,” the psalmist laments (Ps. 38:2). He makes his ardent confession before God — “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin” — because the poet knows his illness is the result of his despicable behavior.

Psalms 6, 38, 39, and 88 have recently been expelled from the New Revised Common Lectionary because of their inference that sickness is visited on people by God. That, I’m afraid, is a rather shallow understanding of these psalms. The poet sees in broader strokes than most of us do. He realizes that our entire life is lived in God.

We can no more sequester our physical self from God than we could partition off our spirit or our emotional life from him. On that accord, Psalm 38’s conclusion is quite positive. “But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer” (Ps. 38:15). It is a wise person who stops in his tracks and waits on the Lord, no matter how bad a creep he was before.

Psalm 38O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.

2For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

3There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

4For my iniquities have gone over my head; they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.

5My wounds grow foul and fester because of my foolishness;

6I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all day long I go around mourning.

7For my loins are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8I am utterly spent and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

9O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

10My heart throbs, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

11My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction, and my neighbors stand far off.

12Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin, and meditate treachery all day long.

13But I am like the deaf, I do not hear; like the mute, who cannot speak.

14Truly, I am like one who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no retort.

15But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

16For I pray, “Only do not let them rejoice over me, those who boast against me when my foot slips.”

17For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever with me.

18I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

19Those who are my foes without cause are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

20Those who render me evil for good are my adversaries because I follow after good.

21Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me;

22make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.


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