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A Visit with An Old Friend

Last Friday morning as Pat and I were sharing our morning devotional, she read Psalm 51 and I was “reunited” with a “dear old friend.’’ You see, that psalm plays a major role in the Ash Wednesday liturgy. One of the churches where I served years ago somewhere along the line developed a tradition of the priest chanting that psalm for the Ash Wednesday. So, rather than make waves, I learned to chant the psalm. Between practicing and actually leading the psalm during my nine-plus years of serving that parish, I suppose I chanted it at least 40 or 50 times. Hence Psalm 51 is indeed a dear old friend of mine. This psalm is, to me, a cry to God acknowledging my brokenness, a cry seeking His cleansing and pardon. Yet for the moment, join me in focusing on v. 11, which the congregation chanted as a “refrain” after every two verses:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

As I meditated on the depth and breadth of that verse, I realized anew that it is not only embedded in my heart, but it is branded in my soul. The phrase is intimate, it is individual and it is incredibly personal. In those fifteen simple words, I am asking the Creator of the universe for a makeover of my heart and my spirit.

While praying last Friday morning, I found other “makeover” words drifting through my mind. First came the words of a song: “ Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me use me… Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me .” [1] I sat in silence listening. Then another song: “ Change my heart oh God, May I be like You, You are the Potter, I am the clay, Mold me and make me.” [2]

I invite you to give yourself a gift today. Read Psalm 51 in its entirety and then, well, just wait in silence and allow the Lord of life to touch your heart and your spirit. May the Lord Bless you and keep you.

[1] Spirit of the Living God, Daniel Iverson (1926). Copyright: St. 1 © 1935, 1963 Birdwing Music (ASCAP).
[2] Change by Heart Oh God, Eddie Espinosa. CCLI#1565 ©1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing (ASCAP).
The Rev. Robert E. Wareing
Pastoral Associate
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