Pastor Tim’s Devotional
February 8, 2021
Scripture Reading – Psalm 51:1-3
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Next Wednesday, February 17th, is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the 40-day season of Lent. During this time of year, I am often asked if I have any suggestions for Lenten practices.
To help think about this question, I wanted to share the Lenten Liturgy from the United Methodist Book of Worship that will be read during our Ash Wednesday Service, the appropriately named, “Invitation to the Observance of Lenten Discipline (Pg. 322).”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
the early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism.
It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church.
In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent:
by self–examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self–denial;
and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
To make a right beginning of repentance,
and as a mark of our mortal nature,
let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.
As you read through the liturgy, how did it speak to you? The Lenten Journey is a pilgrimage through the wilderness of our hearts. It begins with self-examination and “the need we all have to renew our faith.” It is the continuation of a journey that began when we took our first steps in response to Jesus’ invitation to “come, follow me (Matthew 4:18-20).”
During Lent we ask ourselves, is there anything that has gotten in the way of our relationship with the Lord? Is there anything in my life, that can’t be in my life, if I am going to follow Jesus?
As you consider your response to the annual invitation of Ash Wednesday, to observe a holy Lent, it is important to remember that there are regular Christian practices that are universal to us all. These are prayer, reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word, and to the list we find in the liturgy, I would add Sunday worship.
If you find that you have drifted away from the regular practice of any of these, Lent is a time to return in an intentional way.
Along with these, there may also emerge Lenten practices for us that are very challenging and personal. If we find through self-examination and the opening of ourselves up to the work of the Holy Spirit that something has come between us and the Lord, then the work that is before us is to confess our sin and to surrender it to the Lord, that through the power of God’s grace it may be removed from our life. It is here that creative fasting and self-denial may have a role to play in breaking free of habits and hang-ups that have crept in and gotten in the way.
I pray the Holy Spirit will guide you this week as you consider your response to the annual invitation to observe a holy Lent.
God Bless You