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Sunday, March 8, 2020
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.
“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” (v. 1) by John Greenleaf Whittier
Hymn 169, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
Although not written specifically for the season of Lent, this hymn written by the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier encapsulates the quiet introspection of the season quite well. The foundation of confession and forgiveness within the first few lines is what allows Whittier to ask for God to “reclothe us in our rightful mind”—an allusion, perhaps, to the famous verse from Colossians 3:12, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Furthermore, it is from that confession and forgiveness that we are called to purer lives—and led to deeper reverence and praise.
The Lenten discipline of self-examination and confession isn’t a popular one. Very few of us enjoy dwelling on the myriad of ways that we fall short, and few things bring that reality into focus like our Lenten attempts to transform particular habits or behaviors. But if we can remind ourselves of the grace that undergirds this season of confession, repentance, and transformation, our self-examination need not feel so heavy. God’s invitation to change the way that we see and interact with this world is one that is offered to us again and again, as we indeed seek for our lives to be clothed “with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” That sort of transformation may not happen overnight, but this yearly season of Lent reminds us that transformation not only can happen but is happening whenever we open our hearts and lives up to God.
Holy God, this is not merely a season of introspection. It is one of transformation. So may you open my heart once more, that it might reflect the compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience that you have called me to. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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