Thursday, June 18, 2020

Scripture for the Day: Psalm 86:1-10

A Prayer of David.
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me. There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

It’s no secret that the staff and pastors who write these devotionals are doing so several days before they are emailed to our congregation. It was quite apparent on my last submission when I reflected how the pandemic and subsequent lockdown had helped me, through a reduction in busyness, appreciate the natural world; in the quiet I’d rediscovered the birds outside my window. 

That was written on a Thursday, the day before protesters took to the streets in response to the death of George Floyd, that then devolved into several days of riots and looting. My reflection looked rather incongruous to the reality unfolding in our streets. It reminded me of that old joke, “Want to make God laugh? Make plans.” Frankly, I’m not certain that joke would withstand the scrutiny of my seminary’s systematic theology classes, but it does speak a certain truth about humans’ inability to predict the future.

Today is no different. As I write, it is Saturday, and I’ve just awoken to discover that Rayshard Brooks, an African American, was shot and killed by two white Atlanta Police officers during what, by all accounts, should have been a routine Driving Under the Influence arrest. It’s early in the news cycle, and I’m sure we’ll know more details and any and all extenuating circumstances by the time this devotion is distributed on Thursday, but at this moment I feel like our wider community is hanging on tenterhooks. 

My prayers are that the violence and destruction meted out by angry mobs over the last week won’t happen anew and that the inevitable protests to this tragic death will remain peaceful. The truth is, I don’t know.

Thankfully, in times of uncertainty, we faithful can turn to scripture for guidance. In our psalm for today we see that uncertainty is not a modern phenomenon; it is part of the human condition but for those who trust in the Lord there is hope for redemption. David prays, “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.” This was true 1000 years before Christ was born and it is true 2000 years after his life, death, and resurrection.

I don’t know what will happen in our city between Saturday and Thursday when you receive this, but in the interim, I trust that God is sovereign and that God’s will will be done. In times of anxiousness and uncertainty, we can trust that God is beside us and guides us as we, His disciples, seek reconciliation and justice in our city and beyond.

Let us pray: “We thank you for your church, founded upon your Word, that challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon you. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live together until that day when all God’s children – Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow – will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.