A child of the 90s, the music from that era will always have a special place in my music library. Just as now, I wasn’t into that many Christian bands back then but DC Talk was at its height. I still have two of their cds.
Instead of simply reading through the New Testament, I’ve making my way through this daily Scriptures readings list for Lent. Each day there are passages from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the Epistles and the Gospels for me to read. What I’ve been noticing is how these questions are echoed and answered in these readings.
Like DC Talk, the prophets bemoan what Israel had become, how indulgent they had become, how they’d turned from righteousness. They saw as deftly as DC Talk, the cultural ideologies they were buying into, that they were making their gods. They feared that Israel had become undone, so they also cried out for God and to God.
In the prophets we actually get to hear God’s voice: pleading on behalf of justice, making a case for mercy, demanding His people practice compassion. He scolds them like a loving father. She pleads for them to do what is right like a devoted mother. He asks them to return to the protection of His home, She asks them to return to Her loving arms like the Prodigal son. With more depth of emotion and authority He asks: What about Love? What about holiness? What about mercy, compassion, and selflessness? What about Me?
It’s fitting that this theme of “What have we become?” would be central to these Lenten readings. Meditating upon sin is a classical element of Lent. All of these questions are about how we miss the mark*. But they are more challenging than an intellectual contemplate of what it means to be a sinner in a sinful world. What I’ve been surprised by are the passages they’re paired with. The Psalms, Epistles and Gospel readings respond to these questions in an unexpected way.
Instead of dwelling on sin or focusing on forgiveness/salvation, the dominate focus of the Psalms readings are who God is. Whether David is crying out to God for rescue or singing to him in joy, whether Moses is praying to God or reminding the Israelites to praise God, what each psalm has in common is that it extols who God is: loving, majestic, trustworthy, merciful, just, patient, kind, powerful, creative.
Most of the readings from the Gospels and Epistles have been about our kinship, our oneness with God through Jesus Christ accompanied with encouragement. Encouragement to model ourselves after God, like children try to model themselves after their parents, adopting their most dominate qualities. Therefore, we’re meant to take after God in our love, our mercy, our patience, our kindness, our trustworthiness, and our creativity. Encouragement that our Father and His Son will help us to adopt these qualities.
The reason I say this was unexpected is because it seems like so often the passages in the Bible we’re directed to are those that tell us what not to do, or talk just about forgiveness. They were unexpected because Jesus is the person of the Trinity we associate with Lent, but these passages are more about the Father. They are a reminder that Jesus was constantly pointing us passed himself to the Father. They’re a reminder that the point of Lent, and of Christianity, is to draw us back to the Father. It is to provoke us to pursue an abundant life with and through the Father, upholding justice, practicing mercy, abounding in love.
Of all the questions DC Talk asks in that song, the most important is “What about God?” When we ask that question, when we seek out the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus, all of the others questions will follow. If we seek Him, and find Him, our questions will change to psalms as we change.
*One of the etymological meanings of the word sin is missing the mark. As in an archer who misses his mark, or target.
P.S. – Sorry it has been a little while since you’ve heard from me! There are two reasons: 1) I spent a day in Ann Arbor exploring a job opportunity you may hear about in the future. 2) I got a bad stomach flu that’s kept me closer to a toilet bowl than my computer. While my stomach is still a bit grumbly, I’m feeling much better. (I know, I’ve been sick a lot these last few months. It’s rather abnormal. I blame this indecisive weather and my mom- she works with kids and keeps bringing bugs home with her).