Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Prayer for Your Sunday Evening Worship: Psalm 111

(Based on Psalm 111, the first evening psalm for the first Sunday of Advent)

Eternally faithful covenant God,

            Praise is certainly due your name! Has anything been more sure in the history of mankind? For surely as long as we have lived, you have ever remained faithful, and deserving of honor and praise—so tonight we honor you in our hearts and praise you with our lips. Your works have been many, great, and mighty: so much so that they are incredible—the people who surround us disbelieve that you could accomplish such things as parting a sea and destroying a pharaoh; as crushing a city by parade; as sending fire from heaven; as raising from death. Your works are myriad, and to the unbelieving they remain mythical, but we who have known your love see them as wonderful; and they give us cause to remember you even this night. You have brought them to mind for us because recalling your deeds in the past gives us comfort in the presence.

Always have you acted in faithfulness, righteousness, truth and purity; love and glory—mercy and gracious compassion. Eternally.faithful.covenant.God. You have provided us with food and nourishment, but not solely that of flesh and body: we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from you. It is by you that we live: from the first breath breathed into the first man to the sustaining power of your breath every morning and every word breathed out into holy writ and by holy men. We depend on you and your covenant.

In Christ you have come to us, offering us that blessed transaction; transaction alone? No, but in declaring us righteous and him sin, you have given us the firstfruits of peace that you are still outworking in us. Daily through your dynamic interaction we come to perceive deeper what your grace and love toward us is. Daily we are shaped and nurtured by your pedagogy that is covenant. And all the while it is characterized by love and holiness. You have given us the inheritance of the nations, namely Christ—that seed of the woman who crushed the serpent; that seed of Abraham who has brought blessing; that seed of David who sits enthroned forever.

In Christ you have shown the supreme power of your works—through yourself the Son you have accomplished redemption for your people. And it is his incarnation that we begin to look back to, even as we look forward to its celebration later this month. We stand in fear of your awesome might, knowing that we are deserving of Pharaoh’s destruction, Jericho’s fall, Baal’s incineration, and death’s vice. But we also know that because you have approached us with your covenant, we stand not only in fear but in awe and praise, even joy. Teach us to live out the incarnate wisdom of Christ, and when we fail, faithful Lord, remind us still of your mighty work: forgiveness.


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