Out of the Depths

“Out of the Depths”
Psalm 130
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Fifth Sunday in Lent
I read a story this week about a group touring Jerusalem who went to visit the chapel at Hadassah Hospital…
The attraction of the chapel was a set of stained glass windows created by the artist Marc Chegal.
The windows are set in a domed ceiling that leads the worshiper’s eyes toward heaven.
The group also noticed that below the windows the floor was sunken and in the middle of the depressed area was a pulpit.
Curious about this architectural feature the group questioned their guide.
He explained: “The floor beneath the windows was made this way because we believe all prayer should be offered ‘out of the depths’.”

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”
This is what we hear the psalmist say this morning.
We are reminded that authentic prayer in Scripture often comes ‘out of the depths’…
we often hear petition and complaint in biblical prayer.
This is the nature of biblical lament…a form of prayer that assumes a covenant relationship between God and God’s people.
It seems that the church in North America has lost its appreciation for this form of prayer and, as a consequence, has lost much of the genuine covenant conversation with God.
Lament is a form of speech that allows the worshiper to complain about injustice and to call on God to hear the cries of those who suffer, as our biblical ancestors did.
Because lament grows out of our covenant relationship with God it is also a powerful form of praise –
It gives evidence of a faith worked out in the midst of hardship, hurt, and loss…It gives God the glory for relief.
As we listen to the words of Psalm 130, we realize that this cry to God carries with it a statement of confidence and faith…The psalmist believes that God is present in the depths.
This is part of the beauty of the Psalms for us…
If we listen to them and take them to heart, they will always help us to recognize God’s presence with us in any situation…
The Psalms offer us songs of praise, joy, lament, and thanksgiving…They are all about our covenant relationship with God.
While there is no specific confession of sin or admission of guilt in Psalm 130, we are reminded that all humanity lives under the shadow of sin…
Verse 3 and 4 of the psalm also declares that God does not count our sins,
but rather God offers forgiveness…
This is crucial to our understanding of right prayer and right relationship with God…
We go to God acknowledging our sinfulness and the fact that nothing we can do is good enough to earn God’s love, and then God responds with unconditional love and forgiveness.
The psalmist says: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
This waiting is to live expectantly, aware of what God has done in the past and anticipating what God is about to do…
This guide of expectancy doesn’t come from despair or hopelessness;
it grows out of a relationship based on hope and trust.
There is certainty in our waiting, not despair.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”
This is a right attitude for prayer…
From the depths of my soul I come to God…
In the midst of whatever is happening in my life, I trust that God is with me…
Though I don’t deserve God’s care, I receive it…
I wait because I know that God’s love is steadfast and that only God has the power to make our relationship whole.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen