Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/1/20)
Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. -Pope Francis
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Psalm 25:1-10 (NIV)
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
This is the Psalm of someone who is ready to go – ready to move. When we look at Scripture, we should notice words and phrases that are repeated. We see the words teach, lead, do not…, paths, way.
The focal point of this Psalm is this: Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
This is the Psalmist prayer – yet what often happens?
When we’re ready to move, there is often opposition, trial, testing. Hostile forces from outside. “Don’t let my enemies exult over me.” Sometimes there are inner hostile forces as well. Shame, sin, confusion.
Where do we find hope in the middle of temptation as we ask God to teach us His ways – to lead us on His paths?
NT Wright says:
"But, as so often in the Psalms, the answer is found in the character of God himself, the God we know and see in Jesus. He is trustworthy (verse 2); his ways are truth, and he provides salvation, rescue (verse 5); above all, he is merciful and constant in his love (verses 6, 7). He is good and upright (verse 8). There are times when we need to pick up these attributes of God, almost like picking up a set of large bricks or stones, and place them like stepping-stones, one after the other, in the river we are trying to cross. That is part of what it means to ‘wait’ on God (verse 5)."
I love his visual – setting each attribute of God as a stepping stone in the river we are trying to cross.
"The first Sunday of Lent is the time for looking the enemies in the face and naming them before God. It is also the time to look God in the face and learn to trust him for every step of the way." (Lent for Everyone, pg 16-17)
What is the river you are trying to cross right now? Lay the stones of truth, salvation, rescue, mercy, steadfast love as your foundation.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation. Help me to call to mind your faithful attributes.
(Wright, N. T.. Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B (p. 16). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.)