Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13 (NRSV)
Verse 1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Verse 2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits-
Verse 3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
Verse 4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Verse 5who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Verse 6The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
Verse 7He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
Verse 8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Verse 9He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
Verse 10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Verse 11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Verse 12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
Verse 13As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
The readings for this week began with the joyous story of forgiveness unearned. We are amazed by the power of this gracious gift to transform lives. Now today the psalmist invites us to consider the true face of God, the source of this forgiveness. Far from seeing a stern judge, we are along with St. Augustine “drawn by delight” of knowing in God the amazing gift of grace freely given. That is our good news.
God is the source, the beginning—merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. We dare not forget that this God is where our strength and reason for being lies. The good news of this radical blessing makes everything else sing.
In my fifty years of ministry a lot has changed in this world. But the need for grace and forgiveness has not changed. We all need to be drawn by the delight of God’s gracious, wondrous love. How can our lives not ring with hosannas?
Gracious God, source of all good, of all compassion, help us to reflect your love and forgiveness into this troubled time. Raise up leaders of strength and graciousness to guide us into the future you have planned for us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.