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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, February 27, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us did fast and pray,
teach us with you to mourn our sins
and close by you to stay.

As you with Satan did contend
and did the victory win,
O give us strength to persevere,
in you to conquer sin.

“Lord, Who throughout These Forty Days” (vv. 1–2)
by Claudia F. I. Hernaman
Hymn 166, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Having served the Presbyterian Church (USA) in our mission agency, I frequently hear reports of what our church is doing to combat some of the most serious issues of our time, from racial discrimination to immigrants denied welcome to misuse of natural resources to the impact of poverty on children. The enduring nature of those issues reminds us of the predominance of sin: the fallen and broken ways in which we humans treat one another and God’s creation.

What then, does it mean to recognize and then mourn our sins as this hymn commends? To mourn our sin is to acknowledge how it separates us from the way of God and also one another, for sin alienates us from our siblings in humanity, who are all children of God, and renders us unable to see them as full selves. Sin truncates our vision for God’s world as we undervalue the gifts that God has provided.

All these shortcomings are something worth mourning. In the language of scripture, we call it lament, and it is something we are not quick to do. Instead, sometimes we prefer shame, in which we berate ourselves with a kind of hopelessness for sins we have committed. The promise and grace of God becomes difficult to see. Other times, we simply prefer to regard sin as a necessary evil, the price of doing business in a fallen world. With such cynicism we might ultimately be led to cling to sin or mistakenly call it virtue.

Real lament takes courage, and most of us are very reluctant to lament if a space to share vulnerability has not been created for us. If the people around us seem unyielding or uninterested in our flourishing, then we hold back. But Jesus has created such a space for us, because Jesus fasts, prays, teaches, and conquers for us. Because of Jesus we can mourn sin, invite our siblings in humanity to do so with us, and pave the way for redemption.

All-embracing God, thank you holding the space for us to recognize and mourn the sins of the world. Give us courage to invite your people to lament, and together let us experience your healing. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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