Yesterday as we read Psalm 51 in the Ash Wednesday service, I began to grow uncomfortable.  The psalm talks a lot about sin, repentance, our need for mercy and is quite solemn.  It is a let’s-clean-out-the-house-and-take-a-good-long-look-at-what-we-find piece of poetry.  As irritation was stirred in me, I think it’s because (in my estimation)  I come from a tradition that would normally pick out our favorite “hunks and chunks” from this Psalm, but here, during this service, I stood before the psalm in its entirety.

Here is David – a man after God’s own heart, one of the house of Israel – pouring his heart out, confessing his sin, and begging for forgiveness.  I think my discomfort came from the feeling that if we would have read this in the halls of my tradition, we would rationalize that “we’ve already been forgiven” and “of course, God will not take His Spirit from us!”  We might be uncomfortable with the extent to which David talks about what a sinner he is and retort with a “yes, but now I believe I am in Christ so this doesn’t apply”.  (Sometimes I think we read and comment on the Scriptures rather than letting those Scriptures sink in and read us.)

See, I come from a tradition that likes to keep things upbeat.  We like fast celebratory music that we can clap to.  We like victory songs.

I come from a tradition that likes the word “believe”.  When an issue arises we like to find a bible verse that will fix things, at least in our minds.  We like ideas and thoughts.

I come from a tradition that likes to talk.  We have great teachers of the Word and bible study discussions.  We like discourse.

I come from a tradition that likes to stay busy.  We join committees, call meetings and “do ministry”.  We like our calendars full and our plans carried out quickly.

I come from a tradition that needs Lent.  It needs confession to add depth to its celebration.  It needs deep repentance juxtaposed to its “believe-ism”.  It needs silence to temper its talking and times of waiting to confront its busyness.

Yes, we need Lent.  We need a time where we open our hearts to God in confession, repentance, silence and waiting – for a long period of time, not just a Sunday morning.  We need this time of year where we, with the Spirit, look at our happy, clappy, noisy, busy, believing faith and ask Him to do some “Spring cleaning”.

Reading for the rest of the week:  Psalm 51

Activity:  Draw a big heart then cut it up into 4 (or more) pieces, so it looks a little like a puzzle.  Label one piece “good stuff”, another “dark places”, another “fears”, and the last “desires/dreams”.  Ask God to show what He sees in your heart and as He reveals it, in each corresponding section draw or write the words that are in your heart.  This is the beginning of our Lenten (and Psalm 51) journey – to bring to God and ourselves what is really going on in our hearts.

May our hearts be transformed by His presence!