And I Will Be Clean

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 51-53; Romans 2

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
    Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
    purify me from my sin!
Because I know my wrongdoings,
    my sin is always right in front of me.
I’ve sinned against you—you alone.
    I’ve committed evil in your sight.
That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict,
    completely correct when you issue your judgment.
Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin,
    from the moment my mother conceived me.
And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places;
    you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.

Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
    wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and celebration again;
    let the bones you crushed rejoice once more.
Hide your face from my sins;
    wipe away all my guilty deeds!
10 Create a clean heart for me, God;
    put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
    please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Return the joy of your salvation to me
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways,
    and sinners will come back to you.

14 Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation,
    so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
16 You don’t want sacrifices.
    If I gave an entirely burned offering,
    you wouldn’t be pleased.
17 A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
    You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
18 Do good things for Zion by your favor.
    Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
19 Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—
    entirely burned offerings and complete offerings.
        Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. (Psalm 51:1-19, Common English Bible)

Psalm 51 is the Psalter reading from the lectionary for Ash Wednesday. It is also one of my favorites in the Psalms. The imagery to me is extraordinarily vivid. The pain the psalmist feels, the pain of guilt should remind us of the pain our sins can bring to others and to ourselves.

When I was in seminary, the consensus opinion of the faculty at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology was, David, didn’t write this Psalm and even if he had it would not have been following the Uriah/Bathsheba fiasco. As I have told you before, most scholars believe those words that follow the “chapter” number are believed to be a later edition.

The psalmist’s words do point to a sin that occupies his heart and mind. “My sin is always right in front of me.” “…I was born in the guilt of sin.” “I’ve committed evil in your sight.” “I’ve sinned against you, you alone.” While the psalmist doesn’t confess specifics, it is clear he is laying it all out on the table.

As he clicks off his words of sin, it is clear the psalmist wants God to absolve his sin. He wants to be free of the guilt in his heart and in his soul. He wants to have joy again. He wants God to wash him whiter than snow.

It is good for the psalmist that God is in the forgiving business. If we take the credits for this Psalm, the sins of the psalmist, David, at least in his own eyes were severe. I also think, with 21st-century sensibilities, we would probably agree. At least at that moment the psalmist really wasn’t a very good guy.

The good news for us is, God is still in the forgiving business. Regardless of what we may have done, it may have even been the sins of David but it doesn’t have to be, God will forgive. John reminds us of that when he writes, “If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

I want that kind of forgiveness. I want God to wash me clean of my transgressions. I am convinced God did it for David. God will do it for me if I confess. If you confess, God will wash you clean. Thanks be to God.

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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