Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.
This is the last verses in Psalm 19 - one of the readings of today.
These are familiar words - often used before a preacher preaches or prays.
Here is the way Eugene Peterson translates them in "The Message"
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
I guess the meditation of my heart is the way I chew on the word of God. I am writing this late in the day because i spent the day with some clergy colleagues sharing who I meet with monthly. We share our lives with each other and in doing so we really are chewing on the word and the work of God in our lives.
This group has been very important to me in the last few years because we have all shared the same experience - which is bringing the Word to God's people through preaching. There are times that it seems so daunting to preach the word. It is easy to limit ourselves to superficial readings, to skim the surface, to speak about what seems comforting and not confronting. It is easy to worry more about whether the sermon is "acceptable" to the congregation and not even consider whether it is "acceptable" to God. And when I think of all the sermons people have heard through their lives, it seems like my little offering is just that - Little. But there is more than that to consider today.
And I wonder how many of us think about this verse just in our daily lives. What are the words of our mouths? what are the meditations of our hearts? Not just preachers - but all of us who follow God. Because when I preach I have thought through those words - the biggest challenge is the words that come in reaction and in defensiviness. It is the words that come out of my insecurity and my pride that are probably not "acceptable."
And so today during this Lenten time of self examination I will spend some time humbly opening myself to God. And asking - as always - for grace and mercy. Forgive me for those words that have expressed more love than judgement. More fear than faith.
Here is a Blessing From Maxine Shonk
May the God of HUMILITY bless you.
May your acknowledge the truth of who you are in God's eyes: fearfully, wonderfully made!
May this truth penetrate your awareness and bring you to a place of humble gratitude for your life.
May you stand humbly before your friends and proclaim your giftedness and call their gifts from them.
May the God of HUMILITY be with you.