First Sunday in Lent

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!” Psalm 25:6-7

“As thou with Satan didst contend,
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.”

“Lord Who throughout These Forty Days” vs. 2, by Claudia F. Hernaman

Lent is a time for exploration of the relationship between humanity and God. Throughout this season of Lent, we are called to remember Christ’s temptation in the wilderness and similarly cleanse our lives from sin. It is a time to free ourselves from the habits that keep us from a deeper communion with God, others, and the earth.

As we prepare our hearts and minds for Easter, the psalmist reminds us that God’s grace is “of old.” The steadfast love of God is older than our sins, personal or collective. It is older and more powerful than any hate-filled word and this Occupation. Indeed, it is the very constant throughout salvation history. When the Psalmist cries, “according to your steadfast love remember me,” he is pleading to be remembered as the human that he is, for God to remember him and not his sins.

Yet, Lent is not only how we relate to God but also how we relate to each other. It is our relationships with each other that can either support or dismantle the systems of oppression that God despises. Often, humans cry not just to God but to each other in different ways to be remembered as human. While our society seems to move continuously closer to the comfort of stereotypes and easy answers, we are called to seek and celebrate the humanity in ourselves and in each individual. Even as we work with the marginalized, it is easy to lack nuance in our understanding of both the oppressor and the oppressed. We can too often view the oppressed as blameless victims and the oppressor as heartless monsters. While the roles of oppressor and oppressed are clear, to view an individual, regardless of their identity, as anything more or less than human is in itself a sin that keeps us from true relationships with God and with the other.

As we journey towards redemption and new life, let us confess our sins to the God that forgives us and cleanses our relationship with God and with others.

Loving and redeeming God, we call to you to remember us by your steadfast love. Look on our humanity and our hearts rather than our sins. Be with us and fill us with your love as we seek to understand the humanity in each of your children. Let our shared humanity be used to bring about a just peace and not used as a means to justify oppression. Amen.

-Grace Killian, GBGM Global Mission Fellow in Palestine and Israel

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