Today we are starting a sermon series entitled, “With a Psalm in Your Heart”. Over the next few weeks we will have a look at six of the 150 Psalms that are a part of what we call the Psalter. Why it is fitting for Confirmation Day is that since 2002 I have always included a class session on the Psalms. One because they are my favorite; and two because there is a Psalm for every human sentiment imaginable. They can help you get through those peaks and valleys of your life because surely you will encounter every human emotion available to you in your lifetime. It’s inevitable.
If you need a Psalm to express your anger? Psalm 109 would be helpful. How about a Psalm for revenge? Psalm 137 or 35 can help you with that. “Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” Who knew such words are found in the Bible? But then there are the Psalms, which are gentler and are for comfort, like the beloved 23rd Psalm, or a Psalm of thanksgiving like Psalm 40 or lament, Psalm 69. There is no emotion that the Psalmist has not had too and then sings about to God. He is not afraid to show God his feelings of joy and gratitude and also get really angry with God. The Psalms provide for us a very real and rich look at how our relationship with God can be.
Another reason that I like having a session on the Psalms is that I ask each confirmand to try their hand at writing a Psalm or two. In the past I’ve received humorous Psalms like:
O Lord, save us from this assignment. Please do not make it as lame as its coming out. I profess of your trust in me, O Lord save me from school. OR
O Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. Thanks be to you for rounding up my 79.9 in math. My parents will not be angered. My friends shall see the almightily power of GOD! They shall join me in the praising of your name! O Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. Amen. Amen. Amen. OR
O Lord, early mornings plague me. The school bus beckons. Deliver me from relentless fatigue. You alone, O Lord, can deliver me from the evil. I trust in you and praise your name until college when I’ll probably talk to you again.
Then there are some serious ones like:
O Lord, I come to you in search of reassurance, I have heard that High School is the most difficult time in a child’s life. Please guide me through the halls and help me keep track of my true self, so that I am not lost with all of these new people and activities. I will praise you, God, and give you my thanks forever.
O Lord, I have become very lost. Please help me find the start for I shall love you forever. To show this I’ll give you my heart.
This year’s class did not disappoint either; they were equally as moving and thoughtful.
The Psalm for today’s reflection is the very first Psalm in the Psalter. It’s a song for the journey, a preface, a beginning for one’s life. And it talks of two paths, or two roads that you can take.
The first road, of course is the way of the good, the decent, the ethical; happy are those who follow it, they are like trees planted by a stream whose leaves prosper and bear fruit. So if you take the good road your life, and those around you, will be blessed beyond measure. All will be good. PS – this is the road you want to be on. PPSS: Confirmand’s this is the road your parents and I want you to be on.
The second road for consideration is the path for the wicked or evildoers and just what does that mean? Those are the people maybe that lie, cheat, steal for starters or just flat out hurt themselves and others, their relationship with God is hurt and separated, redeemable at all times, of course, but really tarnished. So we all know what happens if you choose that road. Not. Good. Stuff.
So in essence, the choice is up to you. Which road will you take because surely at some point in time you will need to decide which road it is that you need and want to traverse. One of the NY Yankee’s all time great catchers and coaches, Yogi Berra, (who by the way was born in St. Louis) once said, “When you come to a fork in the road; take it”.
Trust me, you will come to a proverbial fork in the road in your life. In fact, there will be many forks in the road and you’ll have decisions to make about which road you want to take. The road that is happy and pleasing to God or the one that is not.
Confirmands, all of this, the reading, the writing, the activity, the retreat, the classes leading up to today, was a nine month stretch on the road of your life to this moment in time. And you have chosen wisely. By being confirmed today you have chosen to devote yourself to a growing knowledge of God and you are saying that you will try to live into God’s ways that will bring peace and blessing to you and to others. That is the best road to take, congratulations!
But this is only today and does this mean that you will always take the ‘good’ road that the Psalmist talks about? No! You won’t! None of us will always be on the good road because sometimes we make some pretty bad choices and it’s really hard. But that is why today is so very important.
If you remember nothing else from your Confirmation year, remember this. That God loves you no matter where find yourself, no matter what you might do in life, and that God loves you for who you are in body, mind, and spirit. And also remember that this congregation loves you and will always welcome you into their fellowship.
So be at peace now, hold today in your heart, and know that you are right where you are supposed to be.