Repentance itself is nothing else but a kind of circling: to turn to the One by repentance from whom, by sin, we have turned away.
First, then, there is a turn in which we look forward to God and with our whole heart resolve to turn to God. Then there is a turn again in which we look backward to our sins in which we have turned from God; and with beholding them our very heart must break. There is one turn resolving to amend that which is to come; another reflecting and sorrowing for that which is past; one turn declining from evil to be done hereafter, another sentencing itself for evil done before.
To turn is a counsel given to those are out of the right way, for going on still and turning are opposite motions, both of them with reference to a way. It the way is good, we are to hold on; if otherwise, to turn and take another.
– excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ Ash Wednesday sermon 1619
I like Twitter, but I’m not a master of communicating powerful truth in 144 characters! Ann Voskamp is, and she has been tweeting a lot of great Scripture verses and powerful prayers on the theme of repentance.
quiet Ash Wednesday prayer of repentance: “Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with us.” #Pray703
#AshWednesday: “Repent&Return, so that your sins may be wiped away,in order Refreshing may come from presence of the Lord” Acts3:19 #Pray703
Isa30:15 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “In Repentance & Rest is your salvation, in quietness & trust is your strength”
Martin Luther: “When our Lord said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” #Pray703
If you come daily to God to honestly confess sinfulness, it’s honestly hard to wear any fake mask of holiness or perfectness. #AshWednesday
Today’s first entry in the Lent 2015 devotional series by Trinity School for Ministry is very solid – a simple, but important reminder on the danger of trusting in our own efforts to please God through our penitence, fasting, or other spiritual disciplines. Here’s a quote I found very helpful, as well as the closing prayer
Repentance is the foundation of our joy. Our penitence is not for God’s sake. He doesn’t need it; we do. We do it to be reminded who we really are: sinners, undeserving of God’s mercy, yet – mysteriously and wonderfully – the recipients of it!
Let us pray that God would give us a good and fruitful Lent, making known to us, in deeper and richer ways, the inexhaustible mystery of his mercy.
Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle chatter. Rather grant to me, your servant, the Spirit of integrity, humility, patience, and love. Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brothers and sisters; for you are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. (St. Ephrem of Edessa)
I (Karen) have been traveling much of the past 6 weeks, which explains my recent blog and Twitter silence. Thankfully Jill and Torre have been posting regularly.
It’s hard to believe there is only one week until Lent. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll commit to any Lenten devotional blogging. I always enjoy it, but I think this year I may need to focus on other priorities.
In the meantime, here are links to various of our Lent categories which you may enjoy browsing.
Tomorrow I’ll try to post links to specific blog entries, especially those featuring compilations of Lent Resources, Devotionals, Poems, etc., both from here at L&B as well as other sites around the internet.
UPDATE: Here are two important entries with lots of Lent links:
Links for Lent 2015 – our brand new, LONG list of links to good sites for Lent reading around the web. Blogs, poems, music, devotionals, Bible reading plans…. there’s a lot here!
I’m in the process of updating music links in various posts from prior years (especially our 2012 Holy Week devotional series)
Updated music links include:
Dan Schutte: Behold the Wood.
John Michael Talbot: Prayer Before the Cross.
both from this Good Friday devotional.
Michael Card: Lift Up the Suffering Symbol
By His Wounds (Brian Littrell, Mac Powell, Mark Hall & Steven Curtis Chapman, from the 2007 album Glory Revealed, iTunes link)
Stricken Smitten and Afflicted (Fernando Ortega, from his 2005 Album Beginnings, iTunes link)
Gethsemane (To See the King of Heaven Fall) – (by Stuart Townend, Keith & Kristyn Getty, from the albun Have You Heard by Stuart Townend. 2008 )
The Sacrifice Lamb (by Lamb, from their 1995 album Lamb Favorites)
from this Maundy Thursday devotional post
Create in Me A Clean Heart. (John Michael Talbot and Terry Talbot, from their 1980 album, The Painter, iTunes link)
from this Ash Wednesday Devotional
More updated links coming soon….
Her Lent devotional features Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, setting of Psalm 51, sung by the choir of Clare College, Cambridge. It’s absolutely worth the full 12 minutes. Truly FANTASTIC.
You can buy this rendition of Allegri’s Miserere at Amazon, from the album Choral Classics from Cambridge.
As you listen to this incredible musical setting of Scripture, ponder the truth that God indeed shows mercy towards and washes clean all who cry out for forgiveness in Christ’s name and turn to Him in repentance.
Here’s what Emily writes in her reflection:
Every day, as the sun goes down,
I pause to remember how often I messed up that day,
in big and small ways.
My mistakes seem illuminated,
weighing down my heart, and impossible to forget.
Yet, as I pray like David did in Psalm 51,
as I pray for mercy,
there follows a peacefulness at the end of the day,
as my errors are blotted out,
covered over by the descent of the night.
The slate, one more time,
is wiped clean,
whiter than snow.
I remember, once again,
as new morning dawns,
there is renewal,
there is cleansing brightness,
a promise provided within each new day.
I am given another chance to get it right.
Oh how wonderful the truth of God’s mercy, pardon, and His cleansing of our hearts!
I may have linked some of the featured resources in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or linked this Index of excellent Lent Resources from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship website. Check it out!
I enjoyed Ann Voskamp’s Advent Devotional “The Greatest Gift”, so I went to her blog, A Holy Experience, today to see what she might be posting for Lent. She’s got a devotional post today from John 4:13-14 (part of a year-long Scripture memory project of passages from John’s Gospel).
“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In reflecting on that passage, she identifies a key question to be asking on Ash Wednesday, and throughout the 40 days of Lent:
Maybe the one big question to be asking myself on Ash Wednesday is:
Give up something or don’t — the point is:
How am I giving more of myself to Jesus?
Here’s more from Ann Voskamp on Lent, including information on how to download her free short Lent / Easter family devotional “Trail to the Tree.”
Go to First Things – NOW! Two fantastic Ash Wednesday reflections. I particularly appreciated the entry about Christina Rossetti and her Ash Wednesday poems. I’d never known the history…
Back in 2006 at the original site for Lent & Beyond, we hosted a Lent “blog carnival” with daily entries for Lent from various Anglican bloggers. It was a great series. I had the joy of penning the Ash Wednesday devotional for that series. While clicking through some of our Lent links compilations the other day to make sure the links were still working, I happened to reread my post from 8 years ago, and I found the Lord using what I’d written then to challenge me afresh.
So here’s an excerpt and the link to that Ash Wednesday devotional from 2006.
Seek the LORD and live…
Those are the opening words of the OT daily office reading from Amos for today, Ash Wednesday (ECUSA 1979 lectionary). I find it interesting that we have a call to choose life on a day when the liturgy during the imposition of ashes reminds us of our mortality:
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
and: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
The theme of finding life through submission and obedience to in the Lord continues in the NT lesson from Hebrews 12, in verse 9:
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Do we truly believe that in Christ is life, and that to live we must submit to our heavenly Father?
I don’t just mean this in terms of salvation and eternal life and the debates about apologetics, and the uniqueness of Christ in which we so often get caught up. I am asking myself this question today and challenging each of us to ask it of ourselves daily throughout Lent. Is Christ our life? Are we willing to submit our wills and desires to God? To choose to do what pleases Him? Do we believe that the joy, life and freedom He offers, that we find in yielding to and obeying Him is better, more satisfying than the empty pleasures of this world?
Back in 2005, the Rev. Matt Kennedy, an Anglican rector in Binghamton NY wrote a short article about Lent for his parish newsletter, which we posted on the original site for Lent & Beyond. I think it’s one of the best pieces for Lent I’ve ever read in terms of really solid practical advice (for believers AND non-believers) about how to choose a Lenten discipline…
This year (2014) Fr. Matt has produced a short video (7 minutes) about Lent which covers some of the same ideas, which is highly recommended. But I wanted to repost Fr. Matt’s original 2005 article as well, since it’s one of my favorite entries from the last 10 years. Who can forget the memorable line: “if you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate”?!
Here’s an excerpt from Fr. Matt’s 2005 article:
For believers, Lent can be a time when you actively work to rid yourself of sins that have grown into habits and/or addictions (yes, this should be something we do all year round but it’s helpful to have a time like Lent set aside for that very purpose).
So, rather than thinking about what vice to give up or what discipline to add, a better place to start is prayer. Ask God to search your heart and bring to your mind those habits of thought, word, and/or deed that displease him most. (Sometimes what is displeasing in your life will be so obvious that you won’t even need to pray, you’ll just know. The Holy Spirit living inside you will have made it abundantly clear already). When you ask this in sincerity you can be sure that God will provide you with an answer.
This answer will tell you whether you need to add a discipline or be rid of a behavior or attitude. If, for example you believe that God wants you to be more committed to studying scripture, then you should probably consider adding personal or group bible study to your routine. If on the other hand you believe God is displeased with the amount of time you spend on the internet or the kinds of things you look at on-line, then you should probably consider cutting out or down on your computer usage or installing some parental control program to keep you accountable (even if, especially if, you’re a parent).
In other words, your Lenten discipline should not be arbitrary. If you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate. Give up whatever it is that leads you into lustful behavior. And don’t just give it up for Lent, use Lent to give it up forever. Let the Lord know that you are committed to turning from the sin he has shown you and then ask him to help you in your task though the power of his Holy Spirit.
If you are not a believer then you don’t just need to turn around a habit or an attitude. God is calling you to turn your life around. He loves you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in your place. Through Jesus, God is offering you the opportunity to be forgiven and made clean. No more guilt, no more burden, no more despair. In Jesus Christ you will have life and have it abundantly. It’s your choice. If you’re tired of living life apart from God, then let him know. You can say it like this:
“Lord Jesus I am a sinner. I’m lost and on my own I can’t find my way home. But you died on the cross to save me from the eternal consequences of my sins and today, this very moment, I repent and I put my life in your hands. I want to be with you forever. Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make your home there. I give my life to you. I pray this in your holy Name. Amen.”
Earlier this week I included a link to Biola University’s “Lent Project” website in my short roundup of new Lent links for 2014.
I just discovered that was only a temporary link announcing the site. The permanent link during Lent is here:
I really enjoyed the Biola online Advent calendar, and expect good things from their Lent Project website.
Here’s an excerpt from today’s Ash Wednesday devotional:
Ash Wednesday is sorrow and tears, a reminder of mortality and the breakability of all earthly things; but it’s also a glimpse of the eternal newness and redemption just beyond the horizon. The sun will rise.
For me Ash Wednesday symbolizes, rather neatly, what it means to be a Christian. It’s not about being beautiful or powerful or triumphant; it’s about being scarred and humble and sacrificial. This is not to say it’s about defeat, despair or self-flagellation. On the contrary, to “give up” or “sacrifice” in the name of Christ is (or should be) the height of our joy. Suffering is not something to shrink from. Giving ourselves away to others is our calling. Dying to ourselves is our glorious inheritance.
“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it,” said Jesus (Matt. 16:25). “To live is Christ and to die is gain,” wrote Paul (Phil. 1:21). […]
In his beautiful 2013 book Death By Living, N.D. Wilson writes about how each human story — messy and mortal and fallen as it is — can be a unique testimony to Christ’s resurrection work.
From the compost of our efforts, God brings glory. … By His grace, we are the water made wine. We are the dust made flesh made dust made flesh again. We are the whores made brides and the thieves made saints and the killers made apostles. We are the dead made living. We are His cross.
No life is beyond the redemptive power of the Holy Spirit. Even the ugliest, darkest, most hopeless and broken among us are not far from the wholeness and light of life in Christ.
Scotty Smith’s Ash Wednesday Prayer: “Over these next forty days give us an insatiable hunger for yourself”February 14, 2013
I was not able to post this yesterday, but even though it was written for Ash Wednesday, I think it makes a good reminder as we look ahead to the rest of Lent. May God give us grace this Lent not to focus on whatever we may be giving up, but to focus on “getting more of Jesus,” living and delighting more in His grace and beauty. I add my very hearty Amen to what Pastor Scotty Smith has written and prayed!
A Prayer for Ash Wednesday and a Grace-full Lent
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Mark 2:19-20
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of surveying your cross and acknowledging our need. For your glory and our growth, we ask you to inundate us with fresh grace in the coming weeks.
Indeed, we don’t want an ordinary Lenten season, Jesus. Melt us in your mercies; overwhelm us with your love; astonish us with your kindness, for your it’s your kindness that leads us to repentance. It’s all about you, Lord Jesus. It is all about what you’ve done for us, not what we promise to do for you. It’s not about beating ourselves up, it’s about lifting you up. Our deepest conviction of sin comes from the clearest sighting of your beauty.
That’s why we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral; for you are the loving bridegroom who died to make us your cherished bride. The work’s already done; the dowry has been paid in full; the wedding dress of your righteousness is already ours; the invitations have been sent out; the date has been secured; you’ll not change your mind about us! We are much more beloved than we are broken. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Over these next forty days give us an insatiable hunger for yourself; reveal new dimensions of your love; intensify our longing for the Day of your return—the Day of consummate joy—the wedding feast of the Lamb.
In light of that banquet, we choose to deny ourselves (fast from) certain pleasures for this brief season; but we’re not looking to get one thing from you, Jesus—just more of you. Fill our hearts with your beauty and bounty. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.
P.S. And even if the good Anglicans among us blanch a little bit at Pastor Scotty’s triple “Hallelujah” in the prayer above (horrors! on Ash Wednesday!! grin….) I pray that we would be so refreshed in the joy of the Lord this Lent that the Hallelujahs for God’s LAVISH grace, mercy and promises would well up and flood our hearts, even if they remain unspoken on our lips. May we have a torrent of Hallelujahs (or Alleluias!) to release on Easter morn.