Psalm 32:1-7 (NRSV)
Verse 1Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Verse 2Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Verse 3While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
Verse 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Verse 5Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Verse 6Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
Verse 7You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
In yesterday’s reading, Isaiah convicts us of our tendency to think our worship services are sufficient to satisfy God’s expectations without being combined with daily acts of justice on behalf of our neighbor. The need of our neighbor is so great that few of us can honestly say that we consistently fulfill that expectation.
Lest we fall into despair at the enormity of the call to seek justice, the lectionary pairs Isaiah’s words with the good news of Psalm 32: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
I am grateful for our tradition of preparing for worship by confessing our sin and hearing the words of absolution. We confess our sin not to wallow in guilt, but because we know that when we acknowledge our sin, we are confident God forgives, and we begin each day with a clean slate, ready to be filled with acts of justice, love, and mercy.
Lord God, may my awareness of the truth that you have forgiven me compel me to seek the good for all with whom I interact today. Amen.