Tue, 5 March 2019
(Jl.2:12-18; Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17; 2Cor.5:20-6:2; Mt.6:1-6,16-18)
“Even now, says the Lord,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”
“We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” Paul exclaims; and the people of God today raise a cry, rending their hearts, begging His forgiveness… turning from their sins to find His healing grace.
The trumpet is blown in Zion; the people are gathered as one. Now “let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.” For now is the time of mourning, now is the time of prayer… now is the time to cry with David, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” For now as we “acknowledge [our] offense” we find how “gracious and merciful is He”; now “the joy of [His] salvation” returns to us as “a clean heart” He creates for us, as His Holy Spirit He instills in our souls. Yes, “Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!” And so let us cry out to our Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people!”
The Lord will hear us, brothers and sisters; He will be quick to respond, as long as we are careful “not to receive the grace of God in vain.” As Jesus said to His disciples, so He says to us: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.” Only such vanity will prevent our finding the “recompense from our heavenly Father.” Yes, we must give alms. Yes, we must pray. Yes, we must fast. But listen to the Lord’s instruction to “keep your deeds of mercy secret,” to “pray to your Father in private,” and to make sure “no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden.” For then indeed “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” for your sacrifice. But if your offering is one to impress the eyes of man, be sure the eyes of God do not look upon it and it shall find no blessing in His sight.
The time has come, the time of great mercy. As we call upon our God, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.” In Jesus and in His sacrifice for our sin we might now “become the very holiness of God.” May we find now the Lord “stirred to concern for His land and [taking] pity on His people.” May we find His grace at work in our souls as now we give ourselves to Him.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Sackcloth Song" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you see what is hidden;
let there be in our hearts no sin
but only your heavenly presence.
YHWH, against you we have sinned, against you and your love. We have turned our backs to you and our guilt is with us always. But you are merciful and offer opportunity for repentance. You are good and kind and allow us to return to you. Help us to rend our hearts and weep in your presence, that we might know the healing touch of your forgiving hand.
Wash us thoroughly from our fault; let it no more be known in your sight, O LORD. Now is the acceptable time for repentance – in Jesus you will hear our pleas. O let His sacrifice be fruitful in your sight that we might be holy in Him this day!
And let our offering be acceptable to you as well. May our fasting and praying and almsgiving bring down your blessings upon us. Make us sincere, dear LORD, in our love for you and one another. Let us lay down our lives with your Son and know your presence in our souls. Spare us this day, O God; let us know the greatness of your mercy.