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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 42

I Love the LORD
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 116:1-9
I love the LORD, because he has heard
   my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
   therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
   the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
   I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
   “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
   our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
   when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
   for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.
What Is This Psalm About?
This is an intimate, joyful song of thanks for deliverance from a deadly circumstance. By writing this prayer for worship, the psalmist fulfills his vow to give public thanks to the LORD for saving him from certain death. It contains his story of being snared in an evil trap and then crying out in raw desperation, “Deliver my soul!” God in his great love and mercy saved the psalmist. So this song extols the LORD for his goodness. The psalmist renders to God the pledge of a lifetime of thanks and devotion.
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
Today we’re preparing for our Easter worship tomorrow. Back on Days 27 and 28, we explored how Jesus in Sheol on Holy Saturday might have prayed the lament of Psalm 88. Now we have followed the prayers of Jesus through the Psalms all the way from his childhood to his enthronement in heaven. So we take this day to sum up his earthly lifetime of devoted prayer to his Father.
Can you visualize Jesus standing with arms outstretched and head turned upwards? Can you hear him say in front of his disciples, “I love my Father because he has heard my voice.” The simple, ardent declaration fills me with joy. The Son prays; the Father responds. Love passes between them. Their love sources the whole universe. Father and Son ever reach and reply to one another. We live in the magnetic field of their eternal attraction. In the midst of our hurting, broken world, the incarnate Son lifts his heart to say, “I love the LORD!” 
John’s gospel records an event in which Jesus actually prays with words very similar to those in Psalm 116. This instance gives us a preview of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter and ours in the future. His friend Lazarus has been dead for four days. Jesus goes to the village where Lazarus lived. Seeing the mourners, Jesus himself weeps for the death of his friend. Then he goes to the tomb and shockingly demands that the stone be rolled away. Though reluctant to let out the stench of decay, at Jesus’ command the people open the grave. 
Before the gaping dark, Jesus prays. John writes, “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me’” (John 11:41-42). Just as the psalmist rejoices in Psalm 116 that the LORD has heard his voice, so Jesus thanks his Father for always hearing his requests. And this is a big ask! Jesus prays before the crowd so that after the miracle they will truly trust that he is his Father’s Son.
Then he calls the dead man to come forth. The revived Lazarus comes back into the light of day, and the people strip away his grave clothes. I wonder if he prays verse 9 from our psalm: “I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” I wonder if at dinner a few days later (John 12:2) Lazarus and Jesus laughed to quote this psalm: “For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” God had asked Lazarus to go through a terrible trial in all its seeming defeat and finality. Perhaps one of the reasons Jesus’ friend went first is to give Jesus the gift of entering Holy Week with very tangible proof that Psalm 116 holds true no 
matter what. 
I imagine that from the first time he learned Psalm 116, Jesus rejoiced to pray the words, “I love the LORD!” Through his ministry and his sufferings, Jesus would learn at ever deeper levels what it means that his Father inclines his ear to him and delivers him from death. I can hear him saying, even now at the Father’s right hand surrounded by angels and archangels, “I love you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, and I will give thanks to you in the 
Spirit forever.”
On Easter Sunday, we step into the victory of Jesus. As we sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” we believe that this event of resurrection belongs to us. We have experienced spiritual resurrection already. The joy of being a new creation in Christ lights our days, even the dark ones. And one day, our participation in Christ’s resurrection will be complete. Yes, we will have to pass through death as did Lazarus and Jesus, but that will be but a brief pause in our journey. Soon we will walk before the LORD in the eternal land of the living. And we will have eternity to declare in ever-interesting, beautiful, creative ways, “I love the LORD I AM. I love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has dealt bountifully with me!”
Tomorrow morning we get to go to the great assembly and lift our hearts and voices to declare the love we share with Jesus for the goodness of the triune God of grace.
Praying with Jesus
I love you, Lord Jesus,
That you heard my cries
Of the pain of all this dying, all this loss.
You passed through death
So now that darkness is light.
I love you, gracious Father
That you heard my cries,
The groaning of a lost humanity.
You spared not our own Son
But lost him to find us.
I love you, Holy Spirit
That you heard my cries
Of being dead in sin
And you came into my heart
To awaken me to life in God.
I know that even now, Jesus, 
You praise your Father in the Spirit
From your eternal humanity,
Joining the great congregation
To extol the glory of a redeeming triune God. 


Posted in: Lent