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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, May 16, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ezekiel 36:24–28

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (NRSV)

Reflection
When I read this passage, I immediately thought of our Fourth Church family. We come from all over—from many religious backgrounds and from all over the world. I believe we are brought together by God. We might say that we made the decision to become part of the family, but I wonder if that is entirely true. I suspect that the reason we are all at Fourth Church is because God wants us to be here. We belong together.

Once we are gathered, God sprinkles us with clean water and gives us the spirit and heart of God to make us truly able to keep God’s commandments. And what are those? Well, it might be good to just start with the basics: loving the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul, treating others as we would want to be treated, and welcoming the stranger. Just imagine if we all could do just these things every day, all of the time. And imagine what would happen if every gathering of God’s people did the same. We could transform the world.

In fact, that is exactly what we are called to do. We will not always succeed, but God will be there to renew our heart and spirit. I often think of something Pastor Kershner said when she spoke to the congregation at Fourth Church for the first time. She said that she might sometimes fail God, but she knew God would never fail her. This passage emphasizes exactly that. God will be there for us, giving us the heart and spirit for God’s work in the world.

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for gathering us to be your people. Remind us of your promise to give us a spirit and heart to follow your commandments and do your work in the world. Renew our heart and spirit daily. Amen.

Written by Juli Crabtree, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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