By Elizabeth Baumann
Reading from Psalm 40
1 I waited patiently upon the LORD;
he stooped to me and heard my cry.
2He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay;
he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.
3He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God;
many shall see, and stand in awe,
and put their trust in the LORD.
4Happy are they who trust in the LORD!
they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods.
5Great things are they that you have done, O LORD my God!
how great your wonders and your plans for us!
there is none who can be compared with you.
6Oh, that I could make them known and tell them!
but they are more than I can count.
7In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure
(you have given me ears to hear you);
8Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required,
and so I said, “Behold, I come.
9In the roll of the book it is written concerning me:
‘I love to do your will, O my God;
your law is deep in my heart.’”
10I proclaimed righteousness in the great congregation;
behold, I did not restrain my lips;
and that, O LORD, you know.
11Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance;
I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the
12You are the LORD;
do not withhold your compassion from me;
let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe for ever,
13For innumerable troubles have crowded upon me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see;
they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
14Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me.
15Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed
who seek after my life to destroy it;
let them draw back and be disgraced
who take pleasure in my misfortune.
16Let those who say “Aha!” and gloat over me be confounded,
because they are ashamed.
17Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;
let those who love your salvation continually say,
“Great is the LORD!”
18Though I am poor and afflicted,
the Lord will have regard for me.
19You are my helper and my deliverer;
do not tarry, O my God.
Across the street from our church is a nondenominational congregation, quasi-Pentecostal, that we’ve sometimes partnered with for special events. Once, a contingent of us went across the street for a special service for the anniversary of their founding. I had a small baby at the time and missed a lot of the service, but I still remember people coming up out of the congregation at the very beginning to share how God had been meeting them in their daily lives and answering their prayers.
I would probably be the last person to suggest such an addition to our liturgy — but there is something for us to learn. If we want people to come to know God, to know they are loved and to be faithful to him, they have to know that’s possible. And they’re only likely to learn that it is and believe it if they hear us talking about it. The biggest hurdle to evangelizing in our tradition is a language barrier. No, I don’t mean the elevated language of the Prayer Book (not even Rite I) or the Nicene Creed. I mean that we don’t speak to one another as if our relationships with God are normal — as if expecting him to hear us, meet us, and answer our prayers is normal, or as if being guided by the Holy Spirit is to be expected. But if we really believe it, shouldn’t our words reflect that? Shouldn’t we do more “testifying”?
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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