“Let my prayer rise before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice…”
- Psalm 141:2
Growing up, Lent was my favorite season in the church year. Every Wednesday evening during Lent, my parents and I would gather with our church family and eat delicious soup in the fellowship hall upstairs. Then, after plenty of time to hang out with my friends, we would move to the sanctuary for evening vespers. I LOVED the sung liturgy of evening vespers and the music helped to permanently embed those words in my heart.
When Brett and I were first married and struggling to find a church home, I would light a candle in our living room on Wednesdays in Lent and sing the liturgy for evening vespers by myself. As I watched the smoke from the candle float up into the air, I would pray and sing, “Let my prayer rise before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” The minor key of the music and the words of the Psalms captured, for me, many of the struggles of life. “Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips. Let not my heart incline to any evil thing…”
These words from the Psalm writer resonated with my experience of how difficult it can be to do the right thing…to not say the wrong thing. These words were comforting to me, because they expressed my experience of struggle - my experience of yearning to be the person I felt called to be and my need for God’s help, love, and support to truly live that out. I felt the honesty of the Psalm writer’s depiction of the human experience.
As an adult, I continue to love the season of Lent. I appreciate the quieter, more reflective nature of the season that encourages me to slow down. I appreciate the honesty of confessing together our shortcomings and our struggles. As a perfectionist, it is a relief to lay down the impossible goal of perfection and accept the reality of my own fallibility and the freely given gift of God’s forgiveness and love.
This Lent I encourage you to find time to slow down and reflect. Consider reading through the Psalms or using a Lenten devotional, such as this resource from ELCA world hunger:
Make time to join us on Wednesday evenings for the sung liturgy of Holden Evening Prayer starting on March 1st at 6:30pm. Or simply set aside quiet time for prayer and reflection.
Lent is a wonderful time to seek peace and deeper connection as we journey together towards the cross and the promise of resurrection.