Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lenten Readings for Morning

Psalm 63

He is here.  God is here.  From a dry and thirsty place I long for his soothing, refreshing Spirit to overwhelm me.  The Psalmist does too.  I sense in this Psalm an intimacy between the writer and God, something I truly long for, have felt I admit at times, but right now, deeply long for with my Creator.  I'm getting there I think.  Even this Lenten Journey, like David as he wandered in a wilderness, is about seeking and opening and thirsting and longing.  And knowing God is there rejoicing....He is here.  I just have to be even more open to His Love, His Power, His Glory in my life.  I long for that intimacy.
Psalm 98

The phrase "make a joyful noise" always makes me giggle a little, remembering some of the children's choirs I've had the privilege of directing.  Noise it is!  But God loves it!  Singing...Roaring Sea...Clapping Floods...Singing Hills...All the world's inhabitants can't help themselves but to "make a joyful noise" in praise to the LORD who...

has done marvelous things.
has won the victory.
has shown his vindication.
has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to His people.
is coming to judge the earth with righteousness and equity.

Praise be to God for His mighty works!  I will not let the seas and hills make noise without me! Praise the LORD!

Daniel 9:3-10

Well, at least it's not Ezekiel (see previous entries).  But Daniel?  These Old Testament Lessons are not for the faint of heart.  I always read the Book of Daniel (don't even think about talking or preaching it) with fear and trepidation.  It's a complicated book full of foreshadowing and prophecy like none other in the Old Testament.  And it's hard for me to speak to a specific passage without feeling a little worry about not digging into the entire context of this book.  All of it informs the rest and I don't want to misinterpret. 

With that wild disclaimer, what jumps out to me first in the passage is this... confession.  Utter humility in confessing on behalf of himself and a nation the "open shame that falls on us".  This is raw admission of guilt, folks.  This is what we have done God.  We have not followed you as you asked.  We have disobeyed your commands.  You are righteous, God.  We are filled with shame.  You are a great and awesome God who has kept your part of the covenant.  We are a shameful people who have not kept ours. You are merciful and forgiving, God.  We are rebels and sinners. 

And this passage, where it ends at verse 10, leaves the prayer of confession wide open.  There is no God (yet!) saying "I show you mercy.  I forgive you.  I love you."  And therein, is the core of the Lenten Season.  We live in these days, the moments of confession, of wondering and waiting for a Savior who can finally forgive us.  Am I in the spirit of confession, of admitting my shame, of laying it out there, of acknowledging my failure to God in order to be prepared for His full and final forgiveness of my sin that came when the righteous, great, awesome, merciful and forgiving God was willingly nailed to a cross to bear the burden of my shame and rebellion and sin? 

John 12: 44-50

What hits me head on in this teaching of Jesus ... "for I came not to judge the world but to save it" is that it is the response to Daniel's prayer of confession on behalf of his nation that we just saw in the Old Testament lesson.  Daniel confesses and I think that he and the nation believed that God's wrath would come down on them, that God, who has every right to, was going to judge and punish them.  \

But not so fast. Years ticked by...God was waiting for His Time to be complete, to come near.  And Jesus is the Answer to the confession of our hearts. He ~ God ~ does not carry judgement at the core of his being.  Yes, he has the right to judge and will/does, BUT...  by Jesus's own words, God doesn't ultimately desire judgement, but for all His people to be saved and live eternally with Him. 

There's not denying that someone has to take the punishment for what we have done.  God cannot let sin be.  There must be consequences.  But Jesus... our righteous, great, awesome, merciful, forgiving God... spread out His arms wide to take our sins on himself. He came to save. 

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