As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until God has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
It’s a horrible, even dehumanizing experience. To be looked upon with hatred, to be thought small, meaningless, useless. Some of us have had this experience in a deeply personal way, through an individual relationship or interaction gone badly or painfully abusive.
As a people we humans have turned on one another, sub-dividing and creating systems of oppression and hatred, forcing one another, our sisters and brothers into categories of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identities and then using them to judge, scorn and control one another.
The Psalmist sings a different tune, inviting us to look to God to define ourselves. It is a song of wholeness and mercy, a song that declares that the love of God wins out over the scorn of earthly ‘masters’. It turns the system of master and servant, of the powerful and powerless on its head. No longer about domination, control or contempt, its a relationship steeped in Mercy instead.
What role do you play in the life of your family and community? When we are in positions of power, whether economic, political, religious or otherwise how do we use that power for good instead of evil? Can we use our power to point out places that our categories for one another breed contempt rather than helping us understand one another? When we are scorned or held in contempt can we remember that only God has the power to define who and whose we are?
May you identify yourself first as a beloved child of God,
May the other identities that you live into in the world be life-giving
And lead to self-awareness and enable you to tell your story.
May the belonging to God that you have in common with one another
give you compassion and erase any contempt hiding in your hearts,
and may your differences serve as tools for deeper understanding.