Lenten Devotional 2021 Devotional 2021/Lent...¢  LORD may be declared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem,

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    Lenten Devotional 2021

  • 2 Lent Devotional 2021


    The Rev. Paul Leone ’90


    Jonah 3:1-4:11

    1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8 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. 9 Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.” 10 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. 4:1 But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3 And now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. 6 The LORD God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than

    a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”


    “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’” I am writing this reflection while practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and churches worship virtually in response to a virus that has literally sickened to death this globe.

    Concurrently, a pandemic of another sort has shaken this country to its core—a disease unveiled by a video of a dying black man gasping for air. In angry response, a collective “Jonah” (protestors and demonstrators) has taken to the streets of Nineveh (think Minneapolis and beyond) proclaiming a message: “I can’t breathe,” “Get your knee off our necks,” “No justice, no peace.”

    “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’” Day after day the voice of the people in our city streets has grown larger and louder. The sin and wickedness they rail against? Racism, discrimination, and police brutality.

    God’s message through Jonah stirred the hearts and minds of the people of Nineveh. “They proclaimed a fast and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.” Even the King of Nineveh rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. What is our country doing? Will God’s message through the collective street voice stir the hearts and minds of national, state, and local government? Will our leaders heed the prophetic word “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Will this commitment infiltrate the decisions, policies, and reform desperately needed?

    Further, what are we as individual Christians doing? Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of 40 in this season of Lent, which takes its name from the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of worshipers as a sign of human sin and mortality. Are we sincere when we pray, with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). Do we take seriously both parts of Jesus’ call to “Repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15)?

    I heard a black man telling his children they are in danger, not because of anything they have done, but because of the color of their skin. He said, “The skin is the sin.” Let all of us remember—we are dust, and to dust we shall return (Gen. 3:19b).

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    “Breathe on us, breath of God, fill us with life anew, that we may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.” Amen.


    The Rev. Rebecca Dix ’15/’16


    Psalm 102

    1 Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. 3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread. 5 Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my skin. 6 I am like an owl of the wilderness, like a little owl of the waste places. 7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. 8 All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 9 For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink, 10 because of your indignation and anger; for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside. 11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. 12 But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations. 13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to favor it; the appointed time has come. 14 For your servants hold its stones dear, and have pity on its dust. 15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory. 16 For the LORD will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory. 17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer. 18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: 19 that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; 21 so that the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. 23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “do not take me away at the mid-point of my life, you whose years endure throughout all generations.” 25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.


    “For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace . . . I wither away like grass” (vv. 3, 11b). When time does its job well, what tends to be left behind are our bones.

    We place a lot of trust in bones. They house and protect many vital organs. They provide structure, support, and enable mobility. If a house is solid and trustworthy to weather tempests and time, we say it has “good bones.” And in a number of cultures and civilizations, bones were depended on for tools, crafts, agriculture, and medicine. Bones have played a vital role in our current existence and also in learning about where we have been as a human species.

    Yet as formidable and important as they seem