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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 24

DAY 24  TUESDAY
Poured Out Like Water
 
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 22:7-21a
 
All who see me mock me;
   they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
   let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
 
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
   you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
   and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
   for trouble is near,
   and there is none to help.
 
Many bulls encompass me;
   strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
   like a ravening and roaring lion.
 
I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
   it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
   you lay me in the dust of death.
 
For dogs encompass me; 
   a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
   they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots.
 
But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
   O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
   my precious life from the power of the dog!
   Save me from the mouth of the lion!
 
What Is This Psalm About? 
 
Written centuries before the Romans perfected the practice of crucifixion, the next section of Psalm 22 eerily describes suffering commensurate with being hung on a cross to die. Morbidly drawn to suffering, gawkers gesture and mock, diminishing the victim’s struggle for life. The pain multiples. Nailed hand and foot to the wood. Dislocation of joints as the killing beam slams into place. Stripped naked and stretched so heaving ribs show. Severe dehydration from the preparatory flogging and further blood loss from being pierced. Dry tongue sticking to the mouth’s roof. Heart racing to pump blood no longer there. “Melting” down in hypovolemic shock. Exhaustion from pulling oneself up just to breathe. The evaporation of courage as the hope of survival dies. 
 
Whatever David experienced that birthed his words, surely the Spirit inspired him for this future meaning. When the gospel writers recalled the events of the cross, they made particular reference to the links in Psalm 22. 
 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
 
Only what resides deep inside a person can come to mind under extreme stress. Jesus learned, discussed, prayed, sang and internalized Scripture all his life. We cannot know specifically how the rest of the words of Psalm 22 come to Jesus during crucifixion. But the gospel writers certainly bring this psalm to bear in their description of the event. Perhaps Jesus meditated upon Psalm 22 in quiet hours before the passion. Or perhaps as the horror unfolds, he simply has the sense that these forms of suffering are not a surprise as if he thinks, “This is what I read about. This is how it must be.” Either way, let’s imagine what this section might mean to Jesus on the cross. Notice the phrases from Psalm 22 that reverberate in the Gospel accounts:  
 
All who see me mock me . . . they wag their heads. Notice the phrases from Psalm 22 that we can highlight in Matthew’s account: “And those passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying 
. . . ‘If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him’” (Matthew 27:39-43). 
 
The people enjoy the spectacle of someone carrying the rage we all feel, experiencing even more helplessness than the rest of us. The priests, so often threatened by Jesus, knowingly use Scripture to taunt this would-be teacher of Israel. Shaming is in full swing. 
From my mother’s womb. David in his distress recalls the comfort of maternal love. Feeling such scorn, I imagine Jesus thinks of Mary, the one whose love is most reliable in all the world. He sees her, and, despite his pain, considers her future. He also sees John, the beloved disciple. So he makes a request: “Woman, behold, your son!” And to John he says, “Behold, your mother!” So we read “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25-27).
 
They divide my garments. John 19:24 quotes this verse from Psalm 22 occurring at the crucifixion. The Romans stripped a criminal naked for crucifixion in part to shame him but also because, being as good as dead, he would have no further need for his clothing. The soldiers gamble to see who gets Jesus’ valuable seamless garment. Seeing this sick game played out underneath him, Jesus knows he is truly a lost cause. 
 
I am poured out like water. . . . My heart is melted within my breast. Psalm 22 depicts physical suffering eerily applicable to crucifixion. The psalm fills in the sparely written gospel accounts with gruesome bodily details.
 
You lay me in the dust. Scholar Allen Ross notes that verse 15 “expresses the most troubling part of the lamentation, that God seems not only to have abandoned him, but is involved in his destruction. . . . [I]t was God who was putting him in the grave. The nuance of the imperfect tense stresses that God is now doing this” (1: 539). In recalling or praying Psalm 22, Jesus sees the torture inflicted on him by people as being the action of his Father who seems to have left him.
Praying with Jesus
 
When it all goes wrong,
I have recalled my mother’s love.
She always saw beyond
Whatever crushed me in the moment
To a future for me she believed.
 
I know not everyone has such a rock,
And that is a grievous loss.
But I’m sure you felt it, Jesus.
Your mother welcomed you
Into this world with holy words,
“Let it be to me according to your will.”
She accepted the sword that would one day
Pierce her own soul as it did yours.
 
I’m glad she stood by you when others fled.
I’m glad you reached out to your Father,
Amidst that forsakenness,
Through recalling Mary’s love and faith.
 
My heart stirs to know you thought of her
As your heart raced towards its end.
You gave John and Mary to each other.
 
And somehow that is a way in for me
To reach toward you in your agony.
May I realize this day when I have a chance
To link my name with yours,
My life to the mystery of your death.
May I care for those you have commended to me
As a way of comforting you. 
May my heart keep a channel open
To the pain described in this psalm,
That I might draw love from you. 
 

 

 

Posted in: Lent