Saturday, Dec. 14 – Ryan Ethridge

14 Dec

Saturday, Dec. 14 – Joy

Today’s Scripture:
Psalm 51;  Hebrews 12:1-6

Sometimes I find myself imagining what God would be like if we ran into one another in some chance encounter – he being the embodiment of something I’m pondering.

When I think of joy, God is a large Irishman with a burl of a rust colored beard growing off his chin. We sit together along a long mahogany bar. The fire burning in the corner keeps us warm from the blustery weather outside and the pot of stew over the fire fills the air with the smell of sage and parsley and lamb.

I’m quiet but he is quite not. He has sought me out amongst the roar and bustle of the crowd. He rests his arm on my shoulder. The weight of it knocks me into the bar. Pulling me close to him, I see his fingers are thick and his hands large. They have been doing work. He grabs a large wooden tankard and slides it in front of me. It sloshes out as it hits my clumsy hands. In his hands it looked so small, but in mine it is a barrel.

He tells me to drink, but I don’t want to. I hesitate. Maybe it is because he is as generous as he is large. Maybe it is because I don’t understand why, amongst all this smiling familiar faces, he has found me, the stranger, to sit with and tolerate.

But he insists again, and I resist again. Who is this jolly man welcoming me? Why am I so skeptical of his goodness?

He raps the top of the tankard with his middle knuckle and looks at me. He waves his hand around the room and says, “It is all yours. Welcome! Sit by the hearth and warm your weary feet. Grab the ladle and get a bowl of soup. Take this cup and join us in celebrating the end of today’s sorrows and the hope tomorrow brings!”

I finally relent. I sip slowly the sweet honey and rosemary goodness offered to me. Another sip. And finally, a gulp.

I think David is much in the same situation as he pens Psalm 51. He finds himself caught in a sin he never thought he would be in. I’m sure he would have told you that he would never commit adultery. He would never commit murder to cover up his sin. But here he is, lamenting his decisions, begging again and again for forgiveness: “Cleanse me from my sins. Give me a pure heart. Please don’t leave me! Give back to me the joy I had when I first knew your salvation!”

These are the cries of the desperate and the penitent. David begs for what is wrong to be made right. He is a son wanting his relationship with his father to be whole again. He is now a stranger sitting in a crowded room.

And so he finds himself, much as I do in my daydreams, sitting atop my stool and the father is sliding a cup towards me. “Welcome” he says with a smile. His welcome seems to be more of a “Welcome back.”

“Drink from the cup of forgiveness” he says. But I resist.

“Take this cup. It is overflowing with my mercy.” Is he really offering it to me?

“Don’t keep yourself from taking from this cup of joy I’m offering you. It is my gift to give and you’d be wise to receive it.”

And so I drink. I take from the cup of joy and forgiveness and peace and love. I only sip at first. But soon, I gulp it down.

Join me today in gulping down the glorious gifts of God!

-Ryan Ethridge


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