O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.Psalm 88:1-2
Psalm 88 is typically referred to as the “Prayer for Help in Despondency.” Despondency, such an accurate word for many us right now. This past week we witnessed the failure of our justice system for Breonna Taylor. This injustice, this despondency many are feeling, seems to be a thread woven through 2020.
The Coronavirus pandemic has not only shown its ill effect upon America, with over 200,000 lost lives, and many hundred thousands more left with permanent infliction, but the pandemic highlighted racial and economic injustices within our nation. People of color and people with inadequate healthcare are suffering loss at a greater percentage and rate. “God of our salvation… incline your ear to our cry.”
Furthermore, we’ve witnessed the virus of racism from the murder of Ahmaud Arbery to the murder of George Floyd to the murder of Breonna Taylor and many others, the thread of injustice is continually woven. “God of our salvation… incline your ear to our cry.”
What is perhaps most interesting about Psalm 88 is that it ends without a verse of joy or praise or thanksgiving. As a dear colleague pointed out after my brother passed, Psalm 88 ends with, “You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me; my companions are in darkness.” His point in telling me about this unique Psalm was that sometimes our prayer or laments just end, sometimes we need a moment (let me emphasize moment, and not season or residence) to just end our prayer as the Psalmist does in Psalm 88. Just think about that for a minute.
Ok, your minute is over, or perhaps you need another, but when you’re ready there is work to be done. Beloved sisters and brothers there is work to be done. I want you to know that I am here as your pastor to co-labor in this work, to celebrate our community, to call upon the name of the risen Lord, and as the Prophet Isaiah implores, to seek justice. For though we need our occasions from time to time to question, lament, to “have a moment,” we do so as a community called to trust in the faithful and merciful God we serve and worship here at Riverside.