Fri, 20 March 2020
(Hos.6:1-6; Ps.51:3-4,18-21,Hos.6:6; Lk.18:9-14)
“As certain as the dawn is His coming,
and His judgment shines forth like the light of day!”
It is night. There is darkness. In this world of sin we are afflicted on account of our guilt, for our failures to love God. And so David cries out in our psalm, “Have mercy, O God, in your goodness”; and so the tax collector in our gospel “beat[s] his breast and say[s], ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner’”; and so with all the afflicted, in the words of Hosea, we should “return to the Lord, for it is He who has rent, but He will heal us.”
Brothers and sisters, we must “strive to know the Lord,” for “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth” to cleanse us of our sin and make us fruitful again. To us the Lord will “be bountiful… by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.” He will grant us a place for worship and again “be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings, and holocausts.” Our prayers shall again come before Him. But if our piety is not to be “like a morning cloud, like the dew that passes early away,” we must come to know and love God. And the first step to knowing God and showing our desire for His love is the recognition of our own sinfulness before Him, for “he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”
Yes, brothers and sisters, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.” “He will revive us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up.” But first we must die. We must die to the sinful pride that afflicts our souls and leads us from the light that shines, that awaits all our coming to Him in blessed humility. For He desires to show us mercy, but mercy we must have. He longs to bring us light, but light we must seek to find. His judgment, which is just, must be our desire, and it will come to us and wash us free of all our sin. And we shall know Him. And His love shall be our own. And only light will shine in our souls.
It is night, brothers and sisters. There is darkness. Our sins are with us still. But the Lord is coming: the light is upon us. Turn to it now, and live.
O LORD, show us your grace
that you might rejoice in our return to you.
YHWH, your kindness and compassion are without end, your forgiveness deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky, for you are beyond our ability to understand – your love is ever abiding. But we, O LORD, are so limited, in our comprehension and in our love. We think only of ourselves, whereas you reach out to us.
Help us, dear LORD, to be more like you; help us to share in your kindness and mercy. Your goodness please make our own, that in your presence we might always remain.
So dark is our sin, dear God, so far have we run from your face, so foolishly removed ourselves from your embrace, from your loving arms and secure protection…. Bring us back into your House, welcoming us as sons again; our guilt remove forever. And let us rejoice as others enter, for then we will be like you, who care more for our redemption than that honor be shown to you.