Repent: The First Week in Lent

When I get the house all to myself I like to open up the Psalms and read them out loud-please don’t tell my kids! Here I find a sympathetic resonance that leads to a cathartic restoration of my soul. In other words, they inspire me. I remember my second year of seminary at Reformed in Florida I was given the assignment to compose a psalm with three other peers. Over several weeks we deliberated together over poetical form, rhythm and thought, emotional direction, and biblical insight. We discovered that we, like the psalmists, know what it’s like to be in a world that is bigger than we were. I grew to greatly appreciate how the psalmists so freely express the more, shall we say, unacceptable emotions: fear, melancholy, anger, even anger at God, and it was all there in God’s Word. Let’s face it, the Psalms display more honesty than most of us adults can muster.

Once a little boy wrote a poem called “The Monster Who Was Sorry.” He began by admitting that he hates it when his father yells at him: his response in the poem is to throw his sister down the stairs, and then to demolish his room, and finally to wreck the whole town. The poem concludes: “Then I sit in my messy house and say to myself, ‘I shouldn’t have done all that.'”

I think “my messy house” says it all. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). The psalmists help us to see that the little boy was not a monster after all, but only human, and well on his way toward repentance. This Lenten season why not clean up the mess and make it a place where Christ would love to dwell. Remember John the Baptizer didn’t come crying out “Be good to yourself!” He came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk 1:4).

A Prayer Attributed to Saint Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Daily Worship Resources
These readings are provided as a personal, family, or group worship resource. These scripture readings are set in the Daily Office Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer, a schedule of daily Bible reading that accords with the Church year.

The First Week of Lent:

Friday
Morning:        Psalm 95, 31    Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32   Philippians 4:1-9
Evening:        Psalm 35        John 17:9-19

– Pastor Hartman

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