In Lent, there is an opportunity to dust off the soul, declutter the spirit. There is dignity in doing the spring cleaning of our very being. We live in a society that values independence. We often do our core work behind closed doors, alone, but it need not be so. The psalmist highly acknowledges that we desperately need God. If are still and open and willing, God can cleanse our hearts and offer us renewal. The pleading of the psalm is intimate. To create a clean heart, God gets a good look at the dirt piling up in the corners.
Being human is humbling. We make mistakes. We hurt one another. We hurt God. The spiritual practice of praying the Psalms reminds us that there is newness every day. We can take a deep breath and inhale new life, new opportunity, a fresh start, little resurrections. Some days it will feel like we are wallowing in the pain of our crushed bones. Other days we will smile, remembering that crushed bones can still rejoice. If we try on the willing spirit of the psalmist, joy is ours for the taking.
Pleading “Do not cast me from your presence” and “Do not take your holy spirit from me” names the fact that God is here. We are filled with the Spirit. We belong. These truths, profound in their simplicity, are often muted and obscured by our fast and full lives. We forget and think we’re alone. We put our heads down and go through the motions of our lives. Dwelling consciously in God’s presence—awake to the wonder of this moment, with an open spirit—is what allows God the space to fill us, enliven us, and restore us.
God of renewal, take a feather duster to my being today. I have a willing spirit, and I long for newness. Declutter my soul so that I may bask in your presence and hear the joy and gladness of all that is holy. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. What are the covenant relationships in your life? How do you fulfill your part of the covenant with God?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. What are the things that clutter your heart, limiting your availability to fully love?
Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you offered your prayers “with loud cries and tears” as Jesus did? How does knowing Jesus’ vulnerability impact your life of faith?
Read John 12:20-33. How does this example of the grain of wheat help you to understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.