Ash Wednesday 2014; Psalm 51:10-12

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

Lord, I am tired. I am weary. You’ve heard me say that I wouldn’t mind the snow if it wasn’t so cold; or that I wouldn’t mind the cold if there wasn’t so much snow. But, here we are with what seems like so much winter still ahead of us. And what will the spring thaw bring? I am worried, Lord. Too many people I love make their living off the land. One of my favorite songs have the lyrics “the winter here’s cold, and bitter

it’s chilled us to the bone

we haven’t seen the sun for weeks

too long too far from home

I feel just like I’m sinking

and I claw for solid ground.”

Lord, I am tired. I am weary. Being a parent is the most joyous and tiring vocation I have. My Ellen is nine months old and I have no idea where the time went. She gives me great joy. But Lord, caring for her is exhausting.

Lord, I am tired. I am weary. You know the secrets I keep. You know the sins I cannot even speak out loud to myself, let alone confess them to you. You know what keeps me up at night and what makes me struggle to accept the grace I preach for myself.

Lord, I am tired. I am weary. End of story. I know I haven’t been caring myself as I should. I have not come to rest in you as often as I ought. I have not dwelled in your Word as much as I should. I don’t remind myself of my baptism daily. I don’t spend nearly enough time in prayer. My candle is burning at both ends–and three places in the middle as well.

Lord, I am tired. I am weary. I don’t know that I have what it takes to travel the 40 days with you to the cross, to your death, which I know was caused by my sin. You died so that I may have life. How is that possible? How could you find me worthy enough to die for? If I’m going to be honest, Lord, it feels like I’m already living in the season of Lent. I know I’m not alone in this, Lord.

I see it in the people around me. People are afflicted with the problems that go along with getting older. Too many of us know the word “cancer.” There are broken relationships all around us. There are some carrying sins the weight of which are immeasurable. There is the stress of families, children, relationships, and those whom we love and hold close. There is the stress of health. There is the stress of jobs or not having a job or not having a job that pays enough. And the numbers. Ugh, I don’t want to think about the numbers. Is corn high or low? Will beans be high or low? Will the price of land be fair? Will the yield be what people desire? We trust in you, Lord, but you can’t blame us for being a bit nervous?

Lord, we are tired. Lord, we are weary. What we need is rest. What we need is comfort. What we need, Lord, is you. We need a place to turn. We need a place that feels like home. We need a place that we can let our guards down. What we need, Lord, is you. Lord, you ask us to venture to the cross. Will we step forward boldly, or will we be like Peter, denying this will happen with every cock crow?

What do you ask of us, Lord? What do we need to approach the cross? What do we have to do to save you from this death? How can it possibly be that this death is inevitable and it’s actually my own sin that has caused this death? Lord, by this cross, you have created in me a clean heart. You have washed away my sin. I am still a mortal. I am dust and to dust I shall return. But in you, Lord, I have eternal life. Lord, you bring us the renewal we need. You are the only one who can bring rest to our weary souls. Why does our renewal and rest look like a cross? Why must it be that way?

Lord, you are the one that can give my weary soul rest. You alone can sustain me. You sustain me with your own bruised and beaten body. You sustain me with your blood that flows from gashes in your side and wounds in your hands. How is it that with every dying breath you give me life? I beg of you Lord to put a new and right spirit within me. Only you can sustain and renew me. Lord, help me to stop looking to those places and things that do not give life. The salvation you provide is my only joy.

I am dust and to dust I shall return, but I beg of you Lord, do not take your holy spirit from me. Lord I am tired. Lord, I am weary. You provide rest, shelter, food for the journey, a cross, and ultimately, and empty tomb. Renewal and rest, Lord. Yes, I rest in you. Renewal and rest, Lord. Yes, I am renewed as I feast on bread and wine. Renewal and rest, Lord. Yes, I have rest when you carry my burdens. Renewal and rest, Lord. Yes, I rest when you forgive me of my sins. I kneel at the foot of the cross, in awe, in shame, in thankfulness, in confusion, in gratitude, in amazement. I am dust. And yet, you saved me.

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