Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, LORD, who could stand? But these is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word do I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD these is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. (NRSV)
Along with the 23rd Psalm, Psalm 130 is often read at funerals, especially when the loss is tragic: a death that came too soon or under troubling circumstances. It is a psalm of lament, a cry for help. Its opening words in Latin are: de profundis. The depths call to mind the opening verse of Genesis: The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. The depths are chaos, disorder, confusion distress. Our depths could be an awareness of our own faults and failures or the result of hurts and harms done to us. In these times our depths may be fear and anxieties about the spread of COVID-19 or the collapse of the international economy. For me, the loss of my routines of worship and small groups is an immense chasm of unease.
The psalm begins as a personal cry to God for help. The psalmist appeals to God for mercy, for forgiveness, for the renewal of God’s steadfast love, God’s covenant love. Then the psalmist rests and waits. For many of us this is a time of resting and waiting, of sheltering in place. One writer offers this is a time of Sabbath, a break from life in the fast lane. This can be a time for centering prayer, reflective reading, inspirational meditation.
In concluding the psalmist turns to the wider community and speaks to all God’s People. Hope in God’s steadfast love, trust in God’s redeeming mercy. All will be well. We too are invited to turn from our personal struggles and reach out with love toward others. Phone calls or handwritten notes are powerful medicine at a time of social isolation. God’s covenant faithfulness is promised to a community of people, connected by one Spirit, the powerful presence of Unconditional Love.
May blessings abundant flow through us to others, in the name of the Living Christ.
Rev. Bill Neil