Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:6, 10)
Is there a better psalm for Lent? It is the psalm used on Ash Wednesday in the Roman Catholic and Revised Common lectionaries. In it, we describe our sinfulness, which is complete and started from our birth: our “sin is ever before” us. In contrast is God’s desire for us: truth and wisdom deep within us. But only God is great enough to purge our sin; even our sense of deep brokenness comes from him. Then we are able to cry our, “Create in me a pure heart, O God,” when the sacrifice of our “broken bones” –by God, to God–are accepted, and we are renewed. Then, we will be able to sing God’s praise, teach others of God’s mercy, and live in the restored community.
Here in Michigan, the weather has been gray and wet; all around us is the slush of late winter. February is not my favorite month. But this is the first day of March, and we are trudging towards spring: any snow, slush or ice on the ground has its days numbered. Psalm 51 is a good psalm for gray days: just as God will turn Winter into Spring, so also God will turn our hearts God-wards.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.