Monday, February 8, 2021

Tuesday prior to Transfiguration


Psalm 50:1–6—The opening line of Sunday’s psalm heaps up divine titles: Mighty One, God, the Lord. This psalm was used in the temple liturgy, where the singers of it acknowledge that they will worship only the one, true God. Even the earth and the heavens declare His righteousness.

How do you respond to the words, “The boss would like to set up a meeting with you?”

Depending upon both your relationship with the boss and your recent performance at work, you may be one who is encouraged by this imminent meeting. “Finally, a raise!” Or you may get that proverbial pit in the stomach which screams, “Oh oh!”

The announcement that God is approaching as judge yields contrasting responses as well. Not unlike the way we talk about law and gospel in preaching (that is, the very same word can be heard as law to some and gospel to others), the effect of this announcement depends upon the stance of the recipient of such news. For some, the announcement that the mighty one, God the Lord, will appear is a longed-for event. Yet, for others, it is the impetus for trembling. Yes, it is clear that judgment takes center stage in the beginning of this Psalm, but is this welcomed or undesirable judgment? Of course, that depends upon what we know about who is doing the judging and, secondly, who is being judged.

We discover right away that the one who is about to speak is mighty. Also, one cannot miss the point that God is being introduced as one who is extremely verbal. In these few verses alone, we discover that God speaks, summons, does not keep silent, and calls. This is not a God who wishes to speak through others or remain distant. Rather, God brings news directly. God is God’s own herald.

God appears to be calling specifically to God’s faithful ones, the ones who made a covenant with God by sacrifice.

We still do not know whether or not God’s people have been faithful in their covenant with God. It is worth noting, however, that God did not call them “unfaithful ones.” All we know is that the hearers being summoned will have one role, and that role will be to listen.[1]

Collect for Psalm 50: Heavenly Father, because Jesus your servant became obedient to death, his sacrifice was greater than all the holocausts of old. Accept the sacrifice of praise we offer you through him, and help us show the effects of it in our lives by striving to do you will, until our whole life becomes adoration in spirit and truth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.[2]

[2] Collect for Psalm 50, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Illustration from the woodcut “The Transfiguration” by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872 copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

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