Monday, December 28, 2009

As We Begin a New Year

This was my sermon title yesterday as I preached from Psalm 39.  This psalm took on particular meaning for me when I discovered that it plays a significant role in the funeral liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer.  Here is the text of that entire psalm:
As Jesus said, "Let him who has ears to ear, hear."
"I said, 'I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.' I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.  My heart became hot within me.  As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

"O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!  Behold you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you.  Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!  Surely a man goes about as a shadow!  Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!"

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you.  Deliver me from all my transgressions.  Do not make me the scorn of the fool!  I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it.  Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand.  When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath!"

"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!  For I am a  sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.  Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!"

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