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Lean on me

by davesandel on March 6th, 2021

Saturday, March 6, 2021                    (today’s lectionary)

Lean on me

Who is there like you, God, who removes guilt and pardons sin, who does not persist in anger forever but delights rather in clemency, who will once again have compassion on us and tread our guilt under your feet.

Forgiveness runs in a circular motion, life is like a little boat upon the sea. Forgiveness is like a waterfall always flowing, just walk under it and get soaked to the skin. Forgiveness never fails.

As the heavens are high above the earth, and as far as the east is from the west, he has separated our sins from us.

Nighttime in the city of New Orleans, Illinois Central straining to be gone, and I lean against the station’s wooden bench, hungry, lacking sleep. No one comes to push me out, not yet. All the money’s gone, all my hope gone with it, oh so sad.

Feel the pain, boy? What did you expect? And what happens now? The Big S, maybe? What’s there left to live for?

I will get up and go to my father and I shall speak to him. I shall say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But my father wasn’t listening. “Let us celebrate with a feast,” he said, “because this son of mine was dead, and now he is alive again. Once he was lost and now he is found!”

The birds sleep above me, hiding in corners of the station roof. Just one left still singing, hooting, owl, looks for food. I hear this owl praying.

Go to him. Go to him. Go on, go to him.

Come on hoot owl, what’s that sound? Go to sleep, you little baby. Everybody look what’s goin’ round. Sing some more.

Always the same. Go to him. Go on, get up and go to him.

This is my father you’re talking about, and I’m afraid.

The owl stares at me. The owl sings. Go to him. He will not take NO for an answer.

A quiet cop opens the door, it slams shut. He shines his everlovin’ light on me. Come on, let’s get moving. The owl is silent, watching. The New Orleans police officer beckons at the big door leading out to the street, and I stand.

“You got any place to go?” Not so much. I nod my head. Sure I do.

*            *           *

Far off around countless corners, over the seventh horizon, the desert fills my mind, and I walk along a familiar path toward my Father’s House.

I shall go up to my father and I shall say to him, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.”

Our neighbor’s mailbox. Just a little farther now. I can see someone standing on the road, can’t quite make him out. My breath catches in my throat, I am afraid. I know the story, but I don’t believe the story. This is something quite out of the ordinary for me. Usually, I’m in complete control.

You cast our sins into the depths of the sea. You have shown us faithfulness and grace as you promised our ancestors in days of old.

Why would my father be standing out in the road before dawn?

Why, indeed?

I guess he loves me more than I knew. I guess he loves me enough for both of us. I don’t need to guess. He’s running toward me, and I can’t run away. His beard on my cheeks, filling my mouth, his arms huge surrounding me, and he is weeping. He is weeping just like me.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He pardons, he heals, he redeems, he crowns. He does not keep his wrath forever, and according to his mercy he saves us.

My dad is weeping just like me.

(Micah 7, Psalm 103, Luke 15)


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