I grew up a Muberist — my dad was Methodist so he served at the pancake breakfast each year and I participated in the Christmas pageant, my mom was Lutheran so we mostly attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Winfield, KS, and I went with my friend Billy Wollard to the Baptist church after school on Wednesdays for choir practice. His grandmother played the piano – it was just wonderful.
If you attend the Lutheran church, then you probably know the following passage of scripture.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
It is Psalm 51:10-12 and is sung in response to the sermon. It’s called the Offertory.
When you sing something each week (especially after rousing yourself from a brief adolescent slumber, sorry Pastor Hathaway), it’s easy to overlook the significance of the words. Here’s the stunning source of those familiar phrases. The prophet Nathan had just visited David to let him know that God was not pleased with him for sleeping with a married woman, Bathsheba, and then having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle (2 Samuel 11).
You may not have found yourself in these exact circumstances, but, if you’re like me, you have found yourself in the place where you’ve disobeyed God, in a big way, and know it, in a big way. I know shame and you may know it as well. It’s not a happy place.
Here’s the good news. We cry out to the same God as David and God is merciful. You cannot have messed up badly enough to stand outside the grace of Jesus. The Message version of the Bible states verse 10 in a wonderful way. I hope that it brings you peace. I am certain that God will respond if you pray this to him:
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.