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.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
We got our biggest snowfall of the season yesterday. It wasn’t a ton (but enough for some sledding) and enough that I had to get the driveway done a few times. As I was out shoveling this morning (and especially getting at the pile of stuff at the end of the driveway left by the plows), I got thinking about Lent starting tomorrow and this passage in particular. Living for most of my life in climates where a lot of snow falls, I have had the experience of shoveling/snowblowing driveways many times over. I especially remember the challenges left by huge piles of snow at the end of the driveway after the plows go through. These piles are a combination of the snow, melted snow, some ice, salt, etc that was kicked up. If its not gotten to fairly quickly, it turns into a real task to get though. So as I was hitting that part of our driveway this morning, I thought of how our faith life is like the process of clearing off the driveway. If we just let it be throughout a big snow, its a much harder task at the end. But if we hit it several times over and especially focus on those really challenging parts, the process goes a lot better.
With Ash Wednesday tomorrow, we are reminded of our own brokenness before God. We are reminded that we are mortal. We are reminded that while we are ultimately Forgiven (Caps intentional there) by Jesus, we have the ongoing process that we work on in our lives of clearing off and clearing out what separates us from God. While tomorrow we will be using ashes in our service, I will probably be thinking of snow shovels and driveways. I will be thinking of the ways that the Spirit continues to work in and through me, helping me to keep cleaning off the driveway of my life.