Lent, Passion Sunday, Psalm 31:9-16


Oh, oh, oh, baby – don’t you know I’m human
I have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I find myself, Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some little simple thing I’ve done
I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
~Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus (1964)
Maybe these words bring Nina Simone to mind, or the classic recording by The Animals, but as we enter Holy Week, they might also remind us of Jesus. He’s coming down to the end of his ministry, and he knows it. Why can’t these people understand him?
The Psalm for Passion Sunday brings us to a place like Jerusalem must have been for Jesus that week, full of people plotting against him. He wanted some sense that God was with him. He couldn’t have been more human than he was the day he carried his cross up the hill and died there. He was one of us.

Christ in Gethsemane, Michael O’Brien
 I hate all this silly religion, 
      but you, God, I trust. 
   I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; 
      you saw my pain, 
      you disarmed my tormentors, 
   You didn’t leave me in their clutches 
      but gave me room to breathe. 
   Be kind to me, God— 
      I’m in deep, deep trouble again. 
   I’ve cried my eyes out; 
      I feel hollow inside. 
   My life leaks away, groan by groan; 
      my years fade out in sighs. 
   My troubles have worn me out, 
      turned my bones to powder. 
   To my enemies I’m a monster; 
      I’m ridiculed by the neighbors. 
   My friends are horrified; 
      they cross the street to avoid me. 
   They want to blot me from memory, 
      forget me like a corpse in a grave, 
      discard me like a broken dish in the trash. 
   The street-talk gossip has me 
      “criminally insane”! 
   Behind locked doors they plot 
      how to ruin me for good. 
 Desperate, I throw myself on you: 
      you are my God! 
   Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, 
      safe from the hands out to get me. 
   Warm me, your servant, with a smile; 
      save me because you love me.
(Psalm 31:9-16, The Message)
This is from the last of six weekly booklets I’ve done inviting people to explore the Psalms as a devotional during Lent. In those I include three versions of the Psalm lection (NRSV, CEB and either KJV or The Message), a brief reflection and an image. Why I haven’t posted one here sooner is a mystery..

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