Thursday following Ash Wednesday

by Stephen P. Hagerty

Cross for Lent 2012Habakkuk 3:1-18
Psalm* 37: 1-42
Philippians 3: 12-21
John 17: 1-8
*All psalm references are to the Book of Common Prayer numbering and versification, which may vary from the psalter in some Bible translations.

I need to make a brief confession. I’ve spent as much time with the psalms as I have training for the New York City Marathon! Though I am grateful that we recite or sing them every Sunday, this hasn’t much moved me to read them as part of my own spiritual practice. As part of my Lenten discipline, I thought I would focus on that which I would normally ignore.

But today’s reading is filled with such wisdom on taking the long view that I can’t help  wondering why I haven’t been spending more time with the psalms! “Do not be envious of those who do wrong”; “Trust in the Lord and do good”; “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”; “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it only leads to evil.”

The psalms show our spiritual ancestors (and, us, really) at our worst and our best. But what I find encouraging about that is their honesty. I have felt envious of those who get away with doing awful things. Sometimes I do find satisfaction in being angry. And I certainly need copious reminders to trust in God and do good.

If the all-knowingness of God means anything, it means that God sees us as we are and not how we hope we are appearing. This would be frightening if God’s way of seeing each of us was not with a love that overwhelms.

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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