Psalm 91:9-13; antiphon, Psalm 91:15-16 – The Introit sets the theme for the day: that, in times of trouble, the Lord is our only sure dwelling place and refuge. The Lord loves everyone who puts his trust in Him, and so He promises, “When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble...I will rescue him and honor him,’
This week, staring on Ash Wednesday, we begin the discipline of Lent; a forty day pilgrimage in which we draw close to Jesus recognizing our need for a Savior and His sufficiency to save. Traditionally Lent will focus on three areas of growth and development. These three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards the neighbor). We do not engage in these disciples to earn our salvation or to somehow get the LORD’s attention; no these are areas of training towards spiritual maturity. These disciplines are designed for personal growth. You have permission here to be completely selfish!
The purpose of fasting is to turn our attention to both God and others. At the same time we pay attention to feasting on joy, compassion, service, and hope so that we might grow in faith all year long. We pray; for a forgiving heart asking the people you have hurt to forgive you. Almsgiving can be easily translated “service.” The opportunities and possibilities are endless. Show an act of kindness. Together with your family, spend time serving others. Visit someone. Write a letter. Create a card for someone who is sick or might be lonely. Engage with your family this week. List ways in which this Lent can be a time of not only contemplation and introspection but one of action toward service.
From the Catechism concerning the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation” we are reminded, ‘God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.’
Collect for Psalm 91: Lord Jesus Christ, when tempted by the devil, you remained true to your Father, who commanded his angels to watch over you. Guard your Church from the plague of sin, so that we may remain faithful to you until the day when we enjoy the fullness of your salvation; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.