The Daily Office | March 26, 2018
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect: Monday of Holy Week
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In Romans, Paul urges his readers to consider severity of God to those who fall because of unbelief and his kindness to those who do not persist in unbelief, but continue in His kindness. Hosea paints for us a vivid and hard to read picture of the consequences of Israel's rejection of God. It is one thing to read of the seemingly passive consequences of Israel's sin, but quite another to hear God say he will come against His people to attack and devour and tear them apart because of their idol worship. His command to them, and to us, is so clear: "You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me." Idolatry is, over and over, the cause of destruction for God's people. He does not sit idly by when His people give the devotion due Him to another. Lent is a good time for us to examine what things capture our devotion and lay them aside. It is a season that calls us to repentance.
God's heart for us, his people, is always for us to return, to acknowledge the powerlessness of our idols to save and fulfill us and to come to him for his healing and love. And what a great salvation he is able to work for us, to bless us and others through us!
"I will heal their waywardness and love them freely...I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily...he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish..."