Great Plains Daily Devotional for 3/6/2019

Today please be in prayer for

Valentine UMC
Great West District
Cody Hunt's Chapel UMC
Kilgore UMC
Great West District
Palisade UMC
Wauneta, NE UMC
Great West District
District Superintendent
Great West District

Today's Lectionary Text

Psalm 51:1-17 

To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Today's Devotional

This Psalm is a traditional reading for Ash Wednesday, and it begins with a reminder of our human brokenness and need for repentance. It’s hard sometimes to hear that we have done something wrong, that we have harmed others. Ash Wednesday is the reminder of the price of our brokenness. We live in a world where there is brokenness and pain, and where we experience the mortality of our physical body.

For two years I served as a Clinical Pastoral Education resident at the University of Kansas Hospital. My first year, I was the chaplain on call for Ash Wednesday. I was called to so many different places in the hospital to provide the imposition of ashes for doctors and nurses who simply could not get away from their work to attend mass or services, as well as for patients.

I remember being struck by how universally recognized and requested the ashes, those symbols of grief and repentance, were that day. I’d begin imposing ashes for one person and it seemed like a line would form right behind of others who wanted to receive the ashes. These ancient practices of the church still feed a deep hunger in our soul, even in the modern world.

But most of all, I was struck by the nature of using a reminder that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” in a place where for some that return to dust was staring them right in their face. In my work in the hospital, I came to recognize just how much we do to deny, avoid, and prevent death, and yet the fact is, we are all mortal. We do return to the dust of the earth from which God created and breathed life into us. I have come to recognize that being reminded of our mortality is in many ways a blessing and an opportunity. Life is all the sweeter because it is limited and precious. And the call to repentance is a gift and an invitation to live each moment with a clean conscience and with the promise that even when we do terrible wrongs, God will walk with us and make us new every day.

Lent is an opportunity to walk with Christ and to allow our brokenness to die with him on Golgotha, on that Cross. It is a chance for us to allow our hearts to be broken by the things that break God’s heart too. War, poverty, injustice, all of those places where sin has divided us, can be healed by God’s grace. Prayers, fasting, and almsgiving are ancient practices that are needed now more than ever in this world.

-Michelle Byerly
Provisional Elder
Pastor of Bassett and Springview (Nebraska) United Methodist Churches


Prayer for Reflection

O God, you remind us that we are dust and to dust we return. Help us to face bravely and boldly our mortality, and to live as people who are ready to die, so that we may live into the promise of life abundant through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


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