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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”
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We are now deep into the season Lent. This is a season in the church when we are encouraged to be honest about the state of our hearts. Maybe knowledge of your own sin has become such a burden that you cannot escape the shame anymore, like our psalmist:
³For I know my offenses and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are justified when you speak and right in your judgment. Indeed, I was born steeped in wickedness, a sinner from my mother’s womb.
That kind of shame is deadly. You simply can’t positively think your way out of that guilt. Someone has to save you from that kind of shame. Someone has to raise you from that kind of death. And the psalmist knows this truth.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, (because I can’t do it myself) and renew a right spirit within me (because I can’t renew myself). Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
A clean heart, wouldn’t that be wonderful! A renewed spirit, is that even possible? If I am lonely, ashamed, addicted, sick, grieving?
The gospel declares that in Christ, life is stronger than death, love is greater than hate, that mercy overcomes judgment, and that all the sufferings and difficulties of this life, while real and sometimes scary and painful, do not have the last word. The last Word is forgiveness, a clean heart.
Questions to Ponder/Discuss
1. What is more difficult for you, being forgiven by God or forgiving yourself?
2. Many Christian communities ignore the liturgical season of Lent. What do you appreciate about Lent?
3. How would you describe what it means to have a clean heart? How about a renewed spirit?
In Christ, God has declared your forgiveness. As we prepare to enter Holy Week, spend some time thinking about what that really means to you. Are you planning to attend the Holy week worship services? Will you be there next week on Easter Sunday? Consider inviting someone to your church. You probably know more than one person with a heart condition and it just so happens, we are in the heart cleaning business!