10 Create a clean heart for me, God;
put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Return the joy of your salvation to me
and sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways,
and sinners will come back to you.
14 Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation,
so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
16 You don’t want sacrifices.
If I gave an entirely burned offering,
you wouldn’t be pleased.
17 A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
What restrictions do you place on yourself for Lent? We often hear people saying that they are giving up something for Lent, like chocolate, sweets, or time on social media, just to name a few. Some Christians will stop there with the thought that such sacrifice teaches them something. But Lent is not just reflecting on what we have given up.
True, through our abstinence, we can develop patience, compassion, and understanding for those who do not have what we have. Yet our intention is not just this sacrifice.
Lent is a time for a course correction. It is setting aside time to change our daily practices by refocusing our thoughts on God. This time of reflection is a good time to refocus our spiritual practices. Fasting and prayer are spiritual disciplines. So too are reading the Bible, singing, writing, walking in meditation, and other practices that help us refocus on God.
Lent is a time not just to long for what we’re missing, but to love the world and God in its place. So let us do this spiritual activity with care but also with celebration. We can lean into our spiritual practices as a way to strengthen our spiritual muscles. We can lean into Lent also as a way to rejoice that our God is drawing us closer to the Spirit along the way.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Lent is a time devoted to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In short, if you give something up or change what you do, then purposefully add prayer in its place. What will you give up? Or better, what additions will you make to your spiritual practices in place of what you are longing for? How will you celebrate that God is drawing you to Godself along the way?
Prayer: Holy One, thank you for this time to refocus on you and your calling in my life. Help me to rejoice in the Spirit that through you, and by you, I am improved for your holy purposes. Amen.
As We Begin Lent
For our Lent series this year, we’ll be using the Adam Hamilton book Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws. At his website, you can find a 40-day reading plan to help you read through the Gospel of Luke during Lent. And join us for worship, in-person or online, at 9:00 & 10:30 every Sunday.