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Lent Readings

Readings Begin February 18

Daily Lent Readings

"He is risen, indeed!" Lent has passed but that doesn't mean the daily readings have to go away. Some of you might be discovering this page for the first time. Others who participated during Lent might find it helpful to revisit a particular reading. For these reasons, we will leave this page up for a while.
We pray that you experience the wonder of interacting with our Savior in a personal, transformative way!
All the readings are also available via podcast on Apple or Spotify. Click here for more information.
"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 8


Melani Pyke. Jesus Carrying Lost Sheep Home. Contemporary.

This week we imagine particular psalms that Jesus might have prayed during his ministry. We will consider how almost immediately Jesus had a profound effect on people. For the Light of the World made a direct assault on the darkness in the human heart, and the path of salvation Jesus offered ran through repentance from pride and self-sufficiency. Some people were offended and reacted with defiance. Many of those in positions of prestige labeled Jesus scandalous. At the same time, those who knew themselves to be weak, ill, lost, or broken joyfully received him. We will see both kinds of responses this week and discover how the Psalms would have helped Jesus make sense of the opposition even as they kept his heart flowing toward those who needed him desperately. 
Those who welcomed Jesus were especially drawn to his self-identification as the Good Shepherd. The nature of this metaphorical role still compels believers today. This contemporary painting by Melani Pyke touches us with the tenderness of the Lord who became our shepherd. 
On a Cliff's Edge in Nazareth
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 71:1-7, 10-12
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
   my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
   you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.
I have been as a portent to many,
   but you are my strong refuge. . . . 
For my enemies speak concerning me;
   those who watch for my life consult together
and say, “God has forsaken him;
   pursue and seize him,
   for there is none to deliver him.”
O God, be not far from me;
   O my God, make haste to help me!
What Is This Psalm About?   
This is a psalm of lament. That is, it is a song of sorrow for suffering and a crying out to God. The poet thirsts for the comfort of the LORD’s sustaining mercy. He makes his plea in trust that God will ultimately deliver him.
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
This week we consider psalms that connect to various episodes in the ministry of Jesus. After his testing in the wilderness, Jesus returns to the region of Galilee. Luke tells us that Jesus is full of “the power of the Spirit.” As he teaches in the synagogues, all the people praise him—until he returns to his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:14-15). 
The Sabbath service in Nazareth begins auspiciously with Jesus reading from Isaiah 61 about the encouraging promise of a messiah. Luke narrates that “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him” (Luke 4:20). When Jesus declares that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled,” the people marvel with delight. Their own local boy seems to be announcing the Christ’s arrival at last!
But then Jesus begins to teach about Israel’s great drought during the prophet Elijah’s time. Jesus tells his listeners how the LORD sent Elijah to care for a widow of Sidon who was not a Jew, but a pagan. Next, Jesus reminds the assembly how God used the prophet Elisha to heal the leprosy not of an Israelite, but of a hated Syrian. 
The congregation gets the point. Jesus does not show preferential regard for his neighbors, and he summons his own kinsmen to repentance. He declines to perform miracles among them because they cannot see that the boy who grew up in Joseph’s home is the Son of the Father. The insult evokes fury in the people because they feel that Jesus, speaking as if he stands in God’s place, has blasphemed the unique holiness of the LORD. The gathering becomes an angry mob as they drive Jesus out of town and up to the top of a hill. They plan to throw him down and then finish the job with stoning if needed. But Jesus, “passing through their midst,” leaves Nazareth never 
to return.
Jesus emerges physically unharmed. However, while he speaks the message the Spirit gives him, undoubtedly this denunciation wounds him. We know how rejection stings. Disappointing others saddens us but provoking them to wrath and utter repudiation shames us. It feels like bridges have been burned. Life as we know it is over. There is no going back. The way forward is lonely.
We can imagine, then, Jesus praying Psalm 71 that evening as he reflects on the tumult his teaching caused. Lament, a song of sadness and a cry for help, rises in him: “In you, O LORD, my Father, do I take refuge. . . . Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come. . . . For my enemies speak concerning me. . . . O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” 
Perhaps in seeking solace in the face of such harsh rejection, Jesus does what we do. He thinks of his story, of those who loved him, of the ways God had been with him. Maybe he recalls being taught the account of his miraculous conception and precarious birth, how he had a unique calling from the beginning. So these words from Psalm 71 would have been anchoring: “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth. You are he who took me from my mother’s womb.”
We readily feel how well Psalm 71 would have described Jesus’ experience, given voice to his pain in rejection and offered words pleading for his Father’s protection and comfort. This psalm might well have carried the weight of the day for Jesus.
Praying with Jesus
I have seldom realized, dear Jesus,
How the stings of rejection
Have given me a bond with you.
I always thought you were so confident
That the wrath and rage never touched you.
But now I see how angering your first teachers
Could make you feel that 
You must have done something wrong.
Your words embarrassed your own family,
Scandalizing their life in your town.
Did you feel shame that you had let them down?
When all that hatred drove against you,
Perhaps you wondered if you should have spoken differently.
I know you felt the loneliness that 
You could never go home again.
When I have felt like this, I usually deserved it.
You did not.
But now I know that you felt the sorrow nonetheless.
You cried out to your Father for solace.
So you know how it is with me.
But more, preciously more, 
I know something of how it was with you,
The pain you paid to tell us the truth,
The sorrow you bore and the solitary path you walked.
Now I would not trade my experience of rejection
For it bonds me to you.
It awakes love that wants to soothe you.
I want you to know that I am here,
Wishing I could be with you then,
Dear companion along the way.


Posted in: Lent