Tuesday: Psalm 51; Numbers 13.25-33; Hebrews 3.1-6

From: Seth Van Liew

I’ve often referred to the familiar Psalm 51 as the “Borg confession” since it is usually recited in unison and deadpan by a given congregation. Personalizing liturgical elements such as this has always been challenging for me. No, I didn’t grow up in a hippie church where we did prayer walks before communion (how cool would that be though, right?), but we did sing “Bless be the ties that bind” while holding hands afterward! When grumbling about the supposed disingenuous nature of the Borg confession in my small group years ago, other members said how important it was to publicly affirm the common beliefs and biblical practices we as a church uphold. The notion that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace is a pretty good place to start. Since then, these practices have grown on me.

Despite us reciting this chapter weekly, a careful reading of Psalm 51 and reflection on your life should make you uncomfortable. Although it says that God is blameless in his judgment along with pleas to cleanse us of iniquity, many of us have felt betrayed by God and dogged by sins. I’ve often yearned for the God of Sodom and Gomorrah when people have wronged me (for his vaunted enemy-smiting abilities), but I want the loving, forgiving God of the New Testament (or even better, the God in those sappy worship songs) when I do wrong. Often it feels like I get the reverse. So what does true confession look like? According to verse 17, a broken spirit and a broken heart. Yikes. Who wants that? It’s not an easy concept to stomach, much less experience. But part of the reason that churches exist is so we don’t have to go through it alone.

I live in Waltham with 50 lbs. of cats, a freezer full of homemade charcuterie, and some t-shirts. My favorite triple homonym is sensor, censor, censer. What’s yours?