Dear Church family,
We have begun the season of Lent which is the 40 days before the celebration of Easter. Over hundreds of years many have found it helpful to give something up during this time: chocolate or meat or desserts; others have found meaning in taking something on during the season. I have taken on the goal of memorizing at least 3 psalms a week. I wrote out psalms, one on each index card, and keep them in my car. So at stoplights or waiting in line, I will practice the psalms, peeking at my cards to see if I am right. I started a little before Lent began so I have already memorized 4 psalms: Psalms 1, 23, 100, and 121. I have found that repeating these psalms aloud from memory have helped me hear something new in them.

Here are two short examples:
Psalm 121 is my favorite psalm. I have mentioned this to some of you. I have taught on it, preached on it, read it a hundred times in worship services. What I noticed when I said it aloud was that it ends with the writer’s assertion that “the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” From this perspective, first we go out and then we come in. I recently had a friend pass away very suddenly and at a very young age. It has been a healing thing to consider that he had, in his life, gone out and, now, he was simply “coming in.” And that the Lord kept his path both ways.

And second, I only memorized Psalm 1 at the beginning of this week. This is also a favorite of mine (why wouldn’t I start with my favorites?!). It starts like this: “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread…” To be frank, these two sins have not often been too much concern for me. I am basically a chicken and so not apt to head down some nefarious road or take up some shady action. But just when I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, I memorized the next line: “or sit in the seat of scoffers”. Happy are those who do not sit in the seat of scoffers.

Uh oh.
The psalm teaches that acting on wicked advice or heading down the road of sin is not any worse than looking at others and scoffing. Scoffing, in short, is just as bad as any other sin. I looked the word up. It can mean to jeer or mock or poo-poo something. That reminder to watch my words, to watch my attitude: do I mock—even in my heart—the way someone else does their job, drives their car, raises their child? Do I poo-poo honest efforts and ideas before I even give them a chance? If so, then I “sit in the seat of scoffers.”

It is already clear that this Lenten discipline has called me to greater faithfulness and recognition of what God demands of me. So I will continue: over this next week I hope to memorize psalms 130, 46 and 24. I do so with the trust and hope that God will use these efforts to bring me a few steps further on this journey of faith.

I strongly recommend that you consider giving something up or taking something on during this season. It is not too late and it can do a world of good.

Christ’s Peace be with you all,