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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 19

Gethsemane: My Soul Is in Anguish
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 6, Psalm 7:1-6, 8-9
As you read, kneel beside Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Join your heart to his voice as he prays these psalms. Let your emotions follow the wide range of Jesus’ feelings; enter the debate he engages, both within himself and with his Father. Cry out on his behalf.
O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
   nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
   heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
   But you, O LORD—how long?
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
   save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
   in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
   every night I flood my bed with tears;
   I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
   it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
   for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea;
   the LORD accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
   they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
?O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge;
   save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
   rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this,
   if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
   or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
   and let him trample my life to the ground
   and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
   lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
   awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. . . .
The LORD judges the peoples;
   judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
   and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
   and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
   O righteous God!
What Are These Psalms About?
In Psalm 6, David laments his suffering. The pain has gone on for a long time, and he feels that he draws near to death. He senses his enemies may pounce on his weakness. Worse, this anguish seems to be the result of the LORD’s chastening for unspecified sin. He cries out for deliverance based not on his righteousness, but on God’s steadfast love. By the end, he rejoices that he has been answered.
In Psalm 7, David experiences trouble again. Only this time he protests his innocence. His prayer for deliverance is a cry for vindication. He asks the LORD to direct judgment against his enemies. By the end of the psalm, David has returned to praise, confident in God’s justice.
What Might These Psalms Have Meant to Jesus?
In Gethsemane, Jesus begins to engage his passion in prayer before he is bodily arrested, tried and crucified. He knows what is coming. He has always known. But he has never experienced what occurs now. This feels wrong. Jesus feels wrong. Tainted. Blocked. Falling. Where is the joy of his Father’s favor?
As we read yesterday in Psalm 41, “A deadly thing is poured out on him.” He knows himself to be the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). But now the Lord of life begins to taste his impending death (Hebrews 2:9). Through the Spirit’s inspiration, David wrote Psalm 6 not only to express in poetic exaggeration his own acute suffering but to provide words adequate to the deathly experience Jesus undergoes. 
This song identifies the abyss that yawns before Jesus’ soul: “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” To praise his Father is life. Sheol, the place of the dead, is a condition of being unable to worship and thus cut off from the Source. This disturbs Jesus so profoundly that he prays, “I am languishing . . . my bones are troubled.” Jesus feels his soul’s agony in his body’s bones. He hurts. For the horror of being the sin-bearer has begun.  
The guilt of humanity begins to pile upon him. The shame disorients him for it feels like his own. He prays Psalm 7 to keep some emotional distance from the condemnation, “O Father, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, . . . let [the enemy] trample my life to the ground.” But he knows he has done no wrong. He begs his Father to take up his cause: “Save me. . . . Arise. Lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies.”
In Gethsemane, Jesus no longer effortlessly feels his Father’s pleasure. He recoils from this foreign experience of his Father’s coming wrath. The overflowing cup of favor in Psalm 23 has become the cup of God’s revulsion against evil: “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup . . . and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs” (Psalm 75:8). It sickens Jesus to be identified as the wicked. He tries to refuse: “Abba, Father . . . remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36).
Psalms 6 and 7 give Jesus more words through which to express that raw cry for deliverance. I hear him adapting phrases as his own: “My soul also is greatly troubled. O Father, how long? Turn back to me. Deliver my life. You are steadfast love, save me! Look, now is the time. Get up! Wake up. Stop the fury of my enemies. Be my protecting, saving Father against the unjust. Let this cup pass!” 
So Jesus, in the dreadful hour of prayer in Gethsemane, gathers every lament ever prayed by wounded, languishing, captive humanity: “How long, O God my Father, how long?”
Praying with Jesus
I understand how your closest friends fell asleep.
The air was so thick with sorrow.
The weight on your shoulders and soul
Pressed down all hearts and eyelids.
How could they eavesdrop on your 
Pitiful pleas that seemed to go unheard?
Jesus, you fell down, got up, cried out,
Walked back, walked away, knelt,
Shouted, whispered, pleaded,
Hurled Scripture to your Father’s deaf ears,
Begged for vindication, and deliverance
From enemies and evil all that breaks the world, 
Asked like a child if there couldn’t be another way.
It’s too much to hear this.
I am too helpless to be of any use. 
But oh my heart reaches in love to you.
This is your weakest moment,
But I have never been prouder of you.
Cry out, Jesus, in the dark night,
For all of us.


Posted in: Lent