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Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.

Not just words

There was a generation of pastors who began their sermons with a spoken prayer and this verse. It feels archaic, now, but the truth of it abides. The words from the pulpit ought to be holy. They ought to be pleasing to God, faithful to God’s own Spirit and grace. Our parish has taken down our large old pulpit that stood several steps higher than the assembly. We have a single reading desk, now, using the lectern that once stood on the opposite side of the chancel from that pulpit. It is theologically correct to have only one place for the reading of the scriptures, instead of the practice of reading the first and second lessons from a lectern and the Gospel from a pulpit, for it is all word of God; it is all inspired of the Spirit; it is all a vessel of God’s encounter with his rebellious sons and daughters.

But something of the sacred task can be lost without a pulpit. Preaching can drift towards entertainment or opinion or advice. “Three steps to a richer prayer life,” rather than an encounter through the text with the transcendent reality whose open hands bear the mark of nails even as they hold out to us the bread of life.

And what is true of preaching can also be true of our prayer. The Lord’s Prayer can be uttered in a rote and meaningless manner or with every word full of yearning, confidence and hope that God’s name might be holy and God’s will be done on earth and in me.

As we come now to walk together through these unique and wondrous days from Maundy Thursday to Easter morning, it is important to let the words of this psalm be upon our lips:

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.

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