revdrwalter-t-richardson.jpg"Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.  Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!" – Psalm 51:7-12.

The above passage is taken from the contemporary version of the scriptures called The Message.

When I pastured, I usually preached from the Psalms during the summer months. I’ve maintained my habit of reading and studying the Psalms, especially during the summer months. The passage was a part of my daily meditation recently and, while reflecting, I remembered that even though this is a midterm election year, there will be voting in many places, including South Florida, in November.

There will undoubtedly be ads on billboards, stickers on the bumpers of cars and media commercials will be omnipresent. And, unless there will be a totally new paradigm introduced in politics, it is certain there will be a nagging tendency of many of those persons seeking office to advertise not on their own merits and qualifications but to point out the misdeeds, missteps and blemishes of their opponents.

Then, some of the unsuspecting and uninformed public who vote will base their selections on who has the most “dirt” on the other,  and may forget, except by the grace of God, that each in some way is a little soiled, either in thought or deed. 

Notwithstanding, each of us is qualified to write a commentary on the condition of our world and we would doubtless come to the same conclusion. We seem to be suffering from a contagious societal sickness and we seem to be getting sicker as days progress. And, all of the symptoms of our dis-ease are not financial or economically based.

But it could be successfully argued that many of the problems existing today, whether financial, communal or political, are the result of greed and arrogance. Thomas Paine’s words ring truer today than when first penned: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Yes, there is a recession which, of course, is economic sickness. There is digression in good manners and sound judgment.

There is indiscretion in daily conduct. There is negative expression conveyed through lewdness and vulgarity. There is an obvious obsession with power, prestige and possessions. There is vocal suppression of the voices that advocate for the dispossessed. There is transgression by the informed who know better. And, yes, there is active aggression in politics.

So, there are dirty politics, dirty families, dirty neighborhoods, dirty leaders, dirty congregations. But we can be clean, again. What we all need are new hearts created, new spirits consummated, new assurances experienced, new joy displayed, new ministry envisioned, new worship encouraged, new attitudes developed and new vision instilled. 

Like David, the author of Psalm 51, there must be a declaration of our own sin and guilt; an exculpation and request for pardon by God; restoration of our joy for service; and continual supplication to God. Then, we can feel clean again.

Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bell Website: