Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prayer Request...and an Ash Wednesday Scripture Meditation

We just received some disappointing and sobering news.

One of the women at our church went in today for exploratory surgery. She knew she had a cancerous tumor, which was going to be treated with radiation before removal, but then on one of the associated exams, some smaller spots elsewhere in her body were discovered. There was a good chance that these spots were not cancerous, but the only way to tell for sure was to go in and look.

This morning, that's what they did--and the small spots were cancerous.

So they eradicated them with tiny radiation "bombs" and they removed the main tumor today, instead of waiting. She'll still have to have radiation and chemo...and then, wait and pray that it doesn't return.

Will you join me, please, in lifting up Barbara before the Lord? She's about my age, and is the homeschooling mother of three children, 9, 6 and 1. She faithfully teaches the kids' Sunday School class and sets up and takes down our altar each week. She and her husband love the Lord, and they love our church--and we love them.

Lord, have mercy on Barbara and her family, for your Name's sake. Amen.

***

The king of Ninevah, when warned by Jonah that in forty days, judgment would fall upon his city, made a proclamation:

No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:7-9)

In many evangelical traditions, we are taught that our sins are forgiven, so why dwell on them? Once we're saved, we're always saved, no matter what we may do. Why meditate on Christ, crucified, for my sins--when I can picture him risen and victorious over sin and death?

I'm not eager to debate theology with anyone, but I think that it's simply common sense to remember, even if our sins are forgiven and salvation is assured us, that we are still sinners. We sin continually, and we are constantly in need of forgiveness. Our sinfulness, compared with the absolute holiness of God, OUGHT to elicit reactions in us like that of the King of Ninevah, or the tax collector, in today's Gospel reading:

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' (Luke 18:13)

It seems to me very prideful to invoke the covering of Christ's blood upon us in such a way that we never have to ponder our many sinful tendencies, forgiven though they may be. But we don't need to grovel in sackcloth and ashes day after day, either! That is why the season of Lent is such a significant time. It's not about self-improvement, but it is a way that we remind ourselves of the holiness of God and for forty days, through fasting and prayer, we assume a humble posture before Him. Kinda like the people of Ninevah, and the tax collector.

If you're unable to attend an Ash Wednesday service, consider setting aside a few minutes today to pray through the liturgy for that service, which includes penitential psalms and readings and the litany of penitence, a confessional prayer.

3 comments:

Amy said...

Please let Barbara know we will be praying for her and her family. I think of them from time to time since our move from Kenosha, especially since they are the ones that introduced Charlotte Mason to us in an off-handed way, but which ended up being our reason for homeschooling our own children! And now even some of our friends have chosen homeschooling and CM too.

Amy said...

Praying for Barbara and her family...

and a holy, blessed Ash Wednesday to you & yours.

Jenny in Ca said...

praying for Barbara and her family.