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Psalm 95

The opening of this Psalm seems quite cheerful and inviting for a rather somber season representing a journey to the cross. The congregation is encouraged to join and sing joyfully to the Lord during the third Sunday of this Lenten season. 

Having grown up not celebrating or observing this 40-day journey in my rural Nazarene church in a Southern Illinois setting, Lent has been a season in the church year that continues to challenge me. There is mystery in Christ’s journey to the cross that I am still unpacking. There is examination and striving that I am still wishing to accomplish in my spiritual disciplines. I struggle as a recovering perfectionist with whether I am getting things right on a constant basis. As a pastor, I know I am not alone in this journey. My congregants are striving each day and desiring growth, my colleagues are each on their own path towards taking time away from the distractions so the journey to the cross can be better understood. 

Lent is a time of reflection and even a time where solitude might be welcomed. This has been my approach over the years. This Psalm challenges me to see Lent in more of a communal light. On my own, I can forget things, dwell on the things that baffle or discourage and cause unrest in my spirit.  Community is essential during this season because the church body is encouraged to come together to remember how great and mighty our God is. We are encouraged for a moment in our Lenten journey to rejoice together and take a time out from the somber moments that often compete for our attention. 

God is the Rock of our salvation- a firm foundation that we stand upon. In feeling of uncertainty in this Lenten wilderness- the reminder of this firm resting place provides hope. Our God is powerful and we are reminded in this Psalm that the God who created the heavens, the earth and all that is in it is the one who loves us, sustains us and allows for the ultimate sacrifice to be made on our behalf in the death of His one and only son, Jesus, on the cross. A sacrifice of this magnitude is worthy of praise, adoration, awe and honor. The love of God is amplified in this Psalm with all that He has done for each of us.

In our moments of rejoicing together, we must not forget to listen to God’s voice through it all. God is ever-present and ever-engaged in our lives and speaks to us often. This portion of the Psalm is a reminder that God will speak to us at times and ask us to rise to the next level in our journey. Sometimes this is anticipated and easy and other times, there are areas of our life we do not want shaken up. Lent in this way is a Holy Disruption. Most of the year we are in ordinary time, celebrating and then suddenly, almost out of nowhere faster than the speed of light, Lent is upon us.  I confess as a Pastor, there are times I’ve not been prepared or have felt that Lent came too fast and that I had not taken time to quiet myself to hear God’s voice because I was distracted. Lent takes some getting used to when its observance is newly practiced later in life. Whether it’s giving something up, or taking something on- both are challenges and Holy Disruptions to the otherwise routine and predictable lives we lead. 

The only way to find true rest in this moment is to listen to God’s whispers with an open and pliable heart. There is much God wants to teach us in the Holy Disruptive moments of this season that need our full attention. When we ignore His voice and invitations to journey with such focus there comes a point where our spirit is restless. Lent, though somber, is also a way to individually and communally rest from the habits that typically compete for our time, attention, and affections. God’s invitation to rest is one to celebrate, to find comfort in and to respond with gratitude.

Psalm 95 is well rounded in the encouragement to rejoice and the reminder that we need to be open to the Holy Disruptions of this season. In your journey towards the Cross, I pray that you hear the voice of God and respond with an open heart to the Holy Disruptions.