Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 1

Rather than giving up something for Lent, or leaning away from something I enjoy, this year I thought I might lean in to some things and write about them instead—in particular, things that light up in my daily prayers and Bible reading, or anything else that the Holy Spirit lights up for me.

First, you should know my sources. I’ll be leaning in to Daily Prayer from the Church of England, except that I am using the St James Daily Devotional Guide as my lectionary. It’s likely there’ll be other sources as I lean this way and that this Lent.

Two things for today:

A Hell of a Way to Start the Day

So said a Benedictine monk once about reading Jeremiah at the beginning of the day which is what Jude and I are doing in Morning Prayer just now. God is not happy with his people.
Thus says the Lord concerning this people:
“They have loved to wander thus;
they have not restrained their feet;
therefore the Lord does not accept them;
now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins.” [Jeremiah 14:10 (ESV)]
“They have not restrained their feet” is what caught my attention. Sometimes God requires that we restrain ourselves from heading in certain directions.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [Galatians 5:16–17 (ESV)]
The self examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, reading and meditating on the Word of God of a Holy Lent are all designed to help us identify our disordered desires. With God’s help, we can then restrain our feet, walk by the Spirit and lean well away from the danger.

My Heart Has Knees

Morning Prayer in my CofE app this morning has a canticle (a hymn, psalm or other song of praise taken from biblical or holy texts other than the Psalms) from the Prayer of Manasseh in the Apocrypha:
The sins I have committed against you •
are more in number than the sands of the sea.
I am not worthy to look up to the height of heaven, •
because of the multitude of my iniquities.
And now I bend the knee of my heart before you, •
imploring your kindness upon me.
I have sinned, O God, I have sinned, •
and I acknowledge my transgressions.
I’ve always found Manasseh’s prayer moving. I was delighted to discover that my heart has knees as well as eyes (Eph 1.18)! It makes perfect sense to bend them and lean in to the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ in grateful penitence.