Read Psalm 119:73-80

 

Your hands have made and fashioned me;

            give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

 

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,

             because I have hoped in your word.

 

I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right,

            and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.

 

Let your steadfast love become my comfort

            according to your promise to your servant.

Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;

            for your law is my delight.

 

Let the arrogant be put to shame,

            because they have subverted me with guile;

            as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.

Let those who fear you turn to me,

            so that they may know your decrees.

 

May my heart be blameless in your statutes,

            so that I may not be put to shame.

(NRSV)

 

—from Rev. Sarah Webb, Wheeling, WV

 

            It was Ash Wednesday, and the penitent worshipers were patiently waiting their turn in line to receive ashes.  Many had their hands folded in front of them.  All of them wore somber expressions appropriate for the occasion.  Were they rehearsing a litany of sins and asking God’s forgiveness?

 

            Then I saw Millie—her smile shone like the sun.  She was coming before the God she loved with a heart brimming with joy.  It slowly dawned on me that Millie understood a dimension of Lent that I had missed.  In this season of preparation, can we bring our regrets and   failures to God, so assured of God’s love and mercy that we bring these offerings with joy?  In the expanse of God’s love, our shame is redressed.  How can we not rejoice?  

 

            “Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice because I have hoped in your word… Let your mercy come to me that I may live; for your law is my delight.”  (Psalm 119:74, 77)

 

I delight in you, my God.  Fill me with your joy.

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