Pause

We live in a world where we can be easily overwhelmed and tempted by a dizzying array of colors, sights, and sounds. Lent provides an opportunity to step back. To look. To listen. To ponder. To go beyond what overwhelms and tempts us.

As we journey to the cross, let us make space for what our souls truly long for: the love and grace of Jesus Christ to whom all hearts are drawn.

What catches your eye? What captures your imagination? What tugs at your heart?

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Listen

Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds!

Psalm 51:7-9

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Think

Psalm 51 reminds us that joy is the right response to God’s saving work in Christ. God makes our sins whiter than snow and wipes away our guilt — this is worth shouting about!

Shouts of joy are not often associated with Lent. Usually our focus is on Jesus’s journey to the cross, his suffering for our sake, and the continued suffering we see in the world. While somber reflection and confession of our sin are important during Lent, we also should make time for expressions of joy.

This is why, rather than giving something up for Lent, I always try to take on something new and encourage others to do the same. A new routine of daily prayer, a commitment to help at the local food pantry each week, a regular appointment with a friend who makes you laugh are all simple ways to  proclaim the joy of God’s grace.

So, celebrate today! Laugh, serve, play, pray, and shout with joy that the cross of Jesus is good news for us and all the world.

Ben Acton

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Pray

Lord of life, your salvation is worth celebrating! Thank you for your love! Help me take time to laugh, play, sing, jump, dance, and shout with joy today when I think about your mercy and grace. Amen.

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Go

You have come to read, to listen, to reflect, to pray. You have come to consider the deep longing of your soul and to consider what draws your love, your trust, your service.

So now, go!

Go, knowing that the One to whom you are drawn is never far from you;

Go, trusting that the gifts you have been given will be up to the task;

Go, drawing others by the kindness of your words and actions into the always welcoming love and grace of Jesus Christ, who, through the cross, draws the world to himself.

Amen.

Ben Acton

Ben Acton is the Associate Pastor for Education and Youth Ministries at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lives with his wife, Rachel, their son, Nate, and Lucy, the wonder dog. When he isn't trying to make the world a better place by empowering youth to speak and the church to listen, Ben likes reading comic books, watching Auburn football (War Eagle!), and drinking Diet Coke. Lots of Diet Coke.

Wondrous Love: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Mark Hayes - markhayes.com

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