Psalm 119:121-128 – Ayin
I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors.
Guarantee your servant’s well-being; do not let the godless oppress me.
My eyes fail from watching for your salvation, and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; give me understanding, so that I may know your decrees.
It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.
Truly I love your commandments more than gold, more than fine gold.
Truly I direct my steps by all your precepts; I hate every false way.
Fifteen years ago, I graduated from seminary. I still vividly remember walking into the university chapel with my classmates, hearing a challenging and encouraging word from Dr. Gillaspie about the ministry we were called into and being humbled by what was before me. A few weeks later, I was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA. In that service, I was surrounded by sisters and brothers who had been a part of my faith journey as they laid hands upon me to confer my ordination. This is a practice we do regularly in the PCUSA as we ordain teaching elders, ruling elders, and deacons. It has a long history back to the book of Acts where the laying on of hands was used to commission and send people out to share the Gospel. This is to be an act of deep humility – as one kneels before God and others in submission to the call upon one’s life. Much of this Ayin section of Psalm 119 feels very much like a prayer that could be used in an ordination – doing what is just and right, waiting on the promises of God to be fulfilled, an openness to learning God’s statues, love of God’s commandments, and a prayer to walk in the ways of God. But this is not just a word for those who have a “Rev” in front of their names, but instead upon us all about the humility with which we live our lives – a humility before God and others – recognizing that we have a great deal not only to share, but to learn from one another.
Yesterday, we lost a tremendous voice in the world as Maya Angelou passed away – I read the following in an interview with her and have kept it close since…
I realized that I didn’t get here by myself. I am a child of God and that’s a blessing and because I have the blessing of God and the knowledge, I have no modesty because it is a learned adaptation. People are just fooling themselves in trying to fool other people when they say, “Oh me! Oh! I’m modest, I can’t do this!” I have no modesty, I have humility. Humility comes from inside out and it says, “Someone was here before me and someone has already paid for me.” I have a responsibility to pay for someone else who is yet to come, there is no room in there for ego! I am grateful to God. I am grateful to all my people who have helped me and all the ways they’ve helped me, the teachers, preachers, rabbis, and priests. Everyone that has helped me, I am grateful and I try to help someone else as often as I can.