(Week of Sunday, September 15 2019)

This week, my lectionary reflection (reflectionary?) comes in the form of a song.

I wrote this Taizé-style setting of Psalm 51 a couple years back now. Since then I’ve sung it with congregations mostly during Lent, seeing as how it’s one of the recommended psalms for Ash Wednesday. But those beautiful words “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (v.10) are the kind of prayer we can pray every day. After all, that “new spirit” isn’t a kind of cosmic white-out, nor is it an escape hatch from being human, in all its messiness and mystery. At least, not in my experience it isn’t! Rather, it’s the kind of spirit that needs renewing on the daily, so that when we inevitably fuck up, we “fail forward,” and our shortcomings become invitations to ever-deeper communion with ourselves, others, and God.

So whatever screw-up, real or imagined, you’re beating yourself up for this week, I hope you can find a little self-acceptance in the midst of that. Practice humility, yes. Make amends, if amends need making. But my prayer would be that negative self-judgment and the fear of failure don’t prevent you from getting back up and trying again. I’ll do the best to practice that kind of grace with myself, too.

May this chant be helpful to both of us in that. If you feel so moved, I invite you take it into your private prayer practice, repeating it over and over, letting the song deepen into you. I’d also invite you to bring it into your congregation this Sunday – in which case, shoot me an email at poetpastorist@gmail.com for sheet music and copyright stuff!

Many blessin’s, y’all. Keep failing forward.

Amen. –Tom

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