search icon search iconSearch A-Z Index Members IconMember Portal Members IconOnline Giving
Members Icon


Welcome to the First Presbyterian Church portal. Please choose an option below to see our events, small groups or to give online.


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
← Return to blog

Day 29


Gaudenzio Ferrari. Christ Rising from the Tomb. 1530-1546, National Gallery, London.
Last week was grueling! Staying focused on the Savior’s suffering takes a toll on us, especially as we pray with him. The week ended in the darkness of the bleakest prayer in the Bible, Psalm 88. But this week, we get the joyful turn!
We will spend time imagining those first moments in the tomb when Jesus realized he was alive in the world again. While he looked at his fingers moving, felt his heart beat, breathed in the relief of pain’s departure, what might he have prayed? You may be surprised how many psalms suit the occasion of resurrection.
To prepare for this week, I have included a painting that fairly pops off the wall in the great first room of London’s National Gallery. It is a triumphant representation of Jesus emerging from the sepulcher. The artist depicts the sepulcher more as a European underground grave than an aboveground Middle Eastern tomb. This allows Ferrari to show Jesus as the conquering hero. He steps on the edge of the tomb in the way a victor in a great contest steps on his defeated foe. He raises his hand, greeting us in the dawn of a new day for all creation. Jesus takes the world stage as victorious Lord.
When I Awake
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 139:17-18, 23-24
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
   How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
   I awake, and I am still with you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
   Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
We looked at Psalm 139 on Day 1. Today we return to it as a prayer of Jesus on another first day, the beginning of a new creation. As we have been doing with the other events of Jesus’ history, let us consider the transformation of descent into rising through Jesus’ praying of the Psalms. It’s not much of a stretch of holy imagination to place the psalms that the church has always associated with resurrection on Jesus’ lips that early morning. 
Could we imagine some moments of prayer in the tomb when the crucified savior sat up? Working his way out of the linen shroud (Luke 23:53), brushing off the spice mix of myrrh and aloes in which he had been covered (John 19:39-40), and folding up the linen face cloth (John 20:7), perhaps prayers long stored in memory also arose. With wonder, even mirth, Jesus might have sung to his Father:
   If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:8b-12)
How true is that! The place of utter forsakenness turns out to be a place into which his Father could yet send the Spirit. Under the pathless sea of Sheol, the Father’s hand has always been leading him. As the sad Sabbath gives way to the first day of a new week, resurrection occurs. The inky, desperate darkness of Hades lights up like a summer noon. The Father turns it all around. He answers the questions we heard raised in Psalm 88: “Do I work wonders for the dead? Absolutely! Is my steadfast love declared in the grave? Oh, yes indeed! In the land of forgetfulness do I remember my beloved? Do I remind him of my wonderful righteousness? Just get up and see!”
The song of Psalm 139 continues with ancient lyrics perfectly fitting this moment for Jesus. Feeling the life surge through him, Jesus becomes aware of the vigor in his refashioned body. Perhaps now hearing the strong beat of his heart once speared, gazing at the fingers of his nail-spiked hand now moving freely without pain, or feeling the spring again in his once pinioned feet, Jesus sings:
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
     my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
  intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:14-15)
David’s psalm marvels at how his life came from his mother’s womb. Jesus sings as one borne from a blacker darkness, gestated through the silent Sabbath for a rebirth as the firstborn of a new creation (Colossians 1:15).
David’s song wonders at the mystery of returning from sleep, from the daily journey into unconsciousness where one has no control and finding that the LORD has been watching over him the whole time. He rejoices that while he was adrift on the sea of sleep, the LORD yet upheld him with thoughts ever turned his way. Jesus rejoices, however, that through that deeper sleep of death, he had not, as he feared, been forgotten: 
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:17-18)
In Hebrew, Greek and Latin, as well as English, “arising” carries the meaning of both waking up and getting up. So for centuries, a prayer at the beginning of the Latin liturgy for Easter morning has employed Psalm 139 with the emphasis, “I arise, and I am still with you.” Pope Benedict XVI, The Faith, p. 80. Jesus in resurrection awakens to the discovery that he had never been truly sundered from his Father. Although his experience exceeds any pain the rest of us could ever have undergone, the rupture occurred only in his vision and awareness. In reality, the forsaking Father and the forsaken Son remained united by the everlasting bond of the Spirit between them. This had all been part of the plan. 
At the resurrection, the Father vindicated the innocence of his Son, overturning humanity’s unjust verdict that he was worthy of death. How do we imagine this occurring? Did the voice of the Father’s declaration thunder throughout the realm of the dead with a concussive “Not Guilty!”? Or did his Spirit rush towards the Son like the father in the parable hitching up his robes and running down the road to welcome home the prodigal? Did a raucous, heavenly party ensue? 
Or, as Raniero Cantalamessa suggests, did the Father send his Spirit softly, as one wakes a sleeping? Raniero Cantalamessa, Life in Christ, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002), 75. In this case, the return to life was a gentle rousing, full of tenderness as the Son arises in an Easter dawn that is the shining countenance of his Father’s love. He speaks these sweet words from Psalm 139 as he lingers a moment with his Father before he leaves the cave to encounter us: “Oh Father, I awake and I am still with you.”
Praying with the Father and the Spirit
Wake up now, little one.
Hey, it’s time, time to get up.
The night is passed
And the day lies before us.
Come back to me, dear heart.
Look, I’m here. Always have been.
You’re ok. You’re ok.
It’s all over. And you’re fine.
More than fine.
Open your eyes, my lad.
See the sun shining 
As if for the first time.
Hear the birds.
Come out of the tomb
And breathe deep 
Sweet spring air.
You’ve got it all started.
All things being made new.
Take a moment,
Don’t hurry.
Just be here with me, alive.
I’m so proud of you.
This is my beloved Son!
In you I am well pleased.
Didn’t I tell them that all along?
Well done, little one.
Now, when you’re ready,
Go find your friends.
Let’s get this party started.
This my son was lost and is found,
He was dead and is alive.
Wake up!


Posted in: Lent