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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!
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"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 11

Your Sins Are Forgiven!
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 32:1-5     
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
   whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
   and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
   through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you,
   and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
   and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
What Is This Psalm About?   
Psalm 32 opens as a wisdom psalm that describes the blessed or fulfilled life as one that experiences the forgiveness of God. David goes on to relate his personal experience with this universal wisdom. He recalls when he kept silent about his sin. Perhaps David remembers how, after having an affair with Bathsheba, he did not repent but went deeper into destruction and arranged for the death of Bathsheba’s husband. The guilt ate away at him, and the unconfessed sin sapped his energy. 
Finally, after hearing the convicting words of Nathan the prophet, David broke down and confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). The relief of forgiveness followed. Consequences still followed; in fact, their effects would ripple for years. But David’s connection to his God returned. His drained, heavy soul was released to be “glad in the LORD” and once more to “shout for joy” as such restoration. 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
Throughout his life, reflecting on the psalms that contain words of wisdom gives Jesus continuing insight into the human condition, even about the one part of humanness Jesus did not share—personal sin. Yesterday we saw how Psalm 14 showed Jesus the raw sinfulness of the human condition. Today we see that Psalm 32 teaches Jesus that the one real barrier between us and forgiveness is the refusal to admit our sin. 
The people Jesus encounters in his ministry languish under the weight of unconfessed sin. Perhaps Jesus wonders why the people do not ask his Father for forgiveness. He notices that people simply rationalize what they do or say as not sinful. They create endless stories of self-justification. Sometimes they use the very fact that God is forgiving as a reason not to worry about their particular sins. Others are just in so deep they can’t stop specific forms of sins and have stopped trying. To compensate, they numb themselves with work, drink or amusements.
But Jesus also encounters those who are crushed under guilt. To these people, their offenses seem more egregious than ordinary sins. These sinners bear such a weight of shame that their lives are bound up in this identity. Jesus feels especially drawn to them. 
Psalm 32 gives Jesus the wisdom to understand something he has never had to experience: the relief of confession and forgiveness. The weight of sin burdens people. They spend huge amounts of energy defending themselves. They keep an extensive record of wrongs committed against them. They angrily blame shift. Their capacity for love shrinks. Life diminishes. But when people truly agree with God about their sin and ask for forgiveness, their burden is lifted. They rejoice. They grow kinder. They extend forgiveness. They worship heartily.
As Jesus goes forth in his ministry, he calls notorious sinners to himself. Levi the tax collector experiences the relief of forgiveness and joyfully hosts a great feast for Jesus. When the Pharisees question how Jesus could summon such a sinner, Jesus replies, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).  
Soon after at the home of a Pharisee, Jesus encounters a woman so identified with her transgressions that she is presented not with a name but as “a woman of the city, who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37). As the woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair and anoints them with perfume, the Pharisee mentally questions whether Jesus recognizes her sinfulness revealing the timeless truth that virtue-signalers love to identify the morally defective and condemn association with sinners. To the chagrin of the Pharisee, Jesus declares in front of all, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48).   
In a well-known parable, Jesus tells of another sinner, a tax collector, at the temple “who standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other” (Luke 18:13-14). 
Jesus knows from reading and praying Psalm 32 that a world burdened by innate sin and its persistent, destructive expression could only find relief through daring confession. He offers a loving presence before which sinners can come clean. His passion for sinners elicits in others what Malcolm Guite has called “the relief of honesty” (Guite, pg. 32). 
How could Jesus pray the plea of Psalm 51: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”? (Psalm 51:2). He had no personal sin to be confessed. Yet true intercession for others involves empathy, standing in their place in prayer, taking their part. Jesus had already done that in taking a sinner’s baptism, and he would do this more completely in taking a criminal’s death. He so identifies with sinners that he can, holding each one of us up to his Father, pray, “Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” He prays this for us, yearning for us to pray these words with him, to make them our own as we pray after the one who has made our sins his own. His compassionate way with sinners gives us confidence that we can dare to own our sin. He stands by us as we do and rejoices with us as we find the freedom of forgiveness.
Praying with Jesus
My sin—the damage done, the cover-up,
The pretending, the justifying, the projecting—
Takes so much energy to keep as my own. 
Shame whispers that if I come clean,
I will be rejected, by you, by others.
I will be outed as a pretender
Exposed for the needy child I am,
In the end only out for myself,
Worthy only to be banished from fit company.
So I banish myself from your company.
Going prayerless, going it alone.
But shame is not the only voice,
For your Spirit is within me. 
You have made me for yourself
And you will not let me go. 
I’m more exhausted than any atheist!
For I know the sweetness of the God I’m avoiding.
I’m miserable.
What is this news that reaches me?
That you, Jesus, stand before your Father 
Interceding for me. 
You speak the devastating truth about me
As if it were your own.
“Against you, you only have I sinned”
You say for me, you say as me,
For we are one and I am in you forever.
Oh Lord Jesus, you break my heart!
Stop, stop taking my sin.
I confess it. I will give to you freely.
Forgive me. 


Posted in: Lent