Week 5 Lenten Thoughts for PMC

Dear Church Friends,

In worship this past Sunday, the following confession was read in unison:

Jesus, we confess you as the Lord of our lives,
the author and perfecter of our faith, our Savior.
Grant us faith to submit to your lordship.
Give us strength to walk in your holy way. Amen.

When we consider these words in tandem with our Scriptural texts this week, perhaps you too, will be stunned by the ways in which God over and again does indeed strengthen us to walk in holy ways.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51
John 12:20-33

Even though the Israelites failed to keep their original covenant with God (you know, the 10 Commandments as they were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai), through Jeremiah God promised to write a new covenant for them--this time it would be on their hearts, lest they try to wander again. Jer. 31:33, "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people..."

Then, Psalm 51 serves as a confession from King David after just having committed adultery with Bathsheba. Not wanting to follow the fate of his predecessor, Saul, David robustly and sincerely confesses his sin. He beseeches God in vs. 10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me."

Then, we get to Jesus in John's Gospel. The Christology is high (Jesus talks with God as Jesus is God), the moment is desperate (Jesus arguably realizes that his impending death cannot be avoided, vs. 27), and God speaks to the people from the heavens. And for what? Perhaps it is in part so Jesus can proclaim in vs. 32, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself."

Do you hear the refrain as it echoes through not just these passages, but through the entire God-narrative?
We sin.
We confess.
God redeems. God reminds us with the law written on our hearts, as it is manifest in Christ the Lord. God renews our spirit, and we are drawn into God's love through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way, we walk a holy path.

Questions for Reflection:
What in our lives needs confessing? What needs to die?
How is Jesus offering new life? How is Jesus lifting us up and drawing us in so that we might walk forward in peace?

God of Grace,
Hear our pleas of regret, just as you heard David so many centuries ago. Bring to our attention our own need for mercy and redemption. We confess that we are a people who claim citizenship in your kingdom, and yet, we quickly reject membership to others who are searching for a home, a safe place in which to proclaim allegiance. As we acknowledge our fellow travelers on the holy path of grace and forgiveness, let us offer one another forgiveness again and again and again, in the name of Christ our Lord, just as you forgive us. Teach us to be faithful practitioners of your message in how we daily live.

May your hand restore us, God.
May the Spirit speak in the depths of our hearts.
May the strength of Jesus fill us to follow God's teaching,

rejoice in God's salvation
proclaim God's forgiveness,
and glorify Christ the Lord. Amen.

Peace be with you,

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