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Posted on 14 Apr 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson

Come By Night, Leave By Day

Posted on 08 Mar 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson

The Gift of Grace

Posted on 01 Mar 2020, Pastor: Seminary Intern Jonathan Moelker

The Lamp in the Darkness

Posted on 23 Feb 2020, Pastor: Dr. Robert Johnson
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New Hanover Presbyterian Church
NHPC Daily Devotion June 2 2020
Are we pawns in this life? Look at yourself as God does.
New Hanover Presbyterian Church
New Hanover Presbyterian Church
Daily Devotional for Monday, June 1, 2020 from Rev. Dr. Robert Johnson for a Day of National Lament

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned…

One of the great traditions in Hebrew and Christian communities, in times of personal and national mourning and trial, is the tradition of lament. The lament is a multilayered event where God is petitioned for help, but lament also includes personal inspection, careful confession and confidence that God’s power is greater than the foe that faces us. I learned yesterday that several National groups (the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Sojourners Community, as well as the National Council of Mayors and leaders of the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and other religious communities) had joined together to declare this a day of lament for the more than 100,000 victims of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. This is an unimaginable tragedy, unthinkable only a few months ago. That there has been no move at the national level to recognize this catastrophe led these groups to call for this day.

However, on the way to this day of lament something lamentable occurred to deepen the feeling of sorrow and angst – the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent waves of outrage that have been sweeping the country ever since. Something is not right. Our earthly leaders have failed us. Our passions have leapt over the boundaries of rationality and decorum that keep them normally hemmed in. Our people are divided by race, class, ideology and history. If it has not happened to you yet, at some point you may feel yourself crying out with the Apostle Paul “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of death.”

There is only one answer, and that is the God of heaven and earth. However, there is more to that story. In a Biblical lament, there is not simply complaint or misery. These are simple things that anyone can do without any faith at all. Lament is different. The laments of the Bible go much further. They have complaint and expressions of misery, but they go on to confession of sin as well. David was doing this in Psalm 51 above – his expression of regret and sorrow over his sins of adultery, deceit and murder in his affair with Bathsheba. God’s power was needed in the worst way, but David knew that his own behavior was far below what he knew God would desire. So, Psalm 51 included his sorrow for his own sin and his determination to do as God bid him in the future, and not as his lusts directed.

In a national lament the occasion may be different, but the pattern is the same: complaint, confession of sin, determination to repent and pledge to cooperate in God’s remaking of the situation. Now is our hour for both. For too long, we denied the coronavirus was a problem, we chose to ignore the danger. And for our foolhardiness, more than 100,000 have died, and thousands more will follow. O, our Lord and God, our sin is more than we can bear!

However, there is more. Since the first slaves from Africa appeared here 400 years ago, our words have been full of the beautiful rhetoric of freedom, equality, equal justice and mutual benefit and plenty. However, for black women and men, every inch of their right to fully participate in the delights of our system have been won at terrible costs and grudgingly surrendered. Even today, the echoes of slavery and the death-dealing song of Jim Crow are heard every day, and we are angry, not at those persons and systems that perpetuate it, but at those who point it out.


O God, we are sorry.
We brag of being a Christian nation,
and boast of your blessing us above all lands,
and yet regularly find ways,
from the halls of Congress
to the halls of our neighborhood school
to oppress, demean and prolong
the misery of black and brown people.
We are appalled that our actions and consent
have led to the death of so many of our fellow Americans
to a disease that could have been denied this toll
had we not been prideful and willfully ignorant.
Forgive us O God!
In place of our farce of wisdom, make us truly wise!
Strike down the hypocrisy of our rhetoric of equality
and replace it with acts that end favor
based on class and race,
and cause us to value each man,
woman and child
for your image which each person carries within them.
Have mercy, O God,
strike down this virus that enslaves us, we pray,
and protect the vulnerable
from those who would sacrifice them for personal convenience and gain.
Burn away the persistent sins of classism and racism
that keep our nation from being truly great,
and help us to gladly bear the pain and sacrifice it will take
to rid us of this scourge.
May we be, O God,
your people, doing your will and seeking your way in all things.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.