220302 – Ash Wednesday

Scripture: Psalm 51:10-17

51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
51:11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
51:13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
51:14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
51:16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
51:17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

Reflection  –  Broken Open (the reflection is an amplification of Psalm 51, offered in the form of a prayer from a person to God…)

Verse 10 of Psalm 51 gets all the attention, God, and deservedly so, because it’s such an evocative verse: Create in me a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within me. I can hear the aching, the yearning in the psalmist – in me. In us? The awareness – that the heart I have just isn’t cutting it. I could use a new one. A clean one. It kind of makes us squirm when we realize that yearning for that clean heart means acknowledging that the one we’ve been working from is somehow…marred – misshapen perhaps through too much setting it on unworthy things, or using it for less than holy purposes. A clean heart, as opposed to this smudged and scuffed up version. A holy heart.

And while you’re in there, God, fixing stuff up, how about installing a new and right spirit too? Mine’s been acting up a bit lately – making some strange noises. I’d like the latest model please. Green and energy efficient, of course!

Even though I know that you would/could never, ever do it, I’m worried that you’ll withdraw your Spirit from me, and cast me away from your Presence. I know that’s foolish, but I can’t help thinking it. I know what my tarnished and stony heart has been up to!

I pray I can return to the joy I used to feel – of absolutely being sure that you were right with me – and how that sustained me, and gave me a willing spirit. I’m not sure how, or where, or why I speed-wobbled, but I’m wobbling. If I could get that feeling back I could convince the world to recognize you.

Maybe part of it is the news I can’t seem to turn away from these days. I know I’m pretty safe – but my heart breaks for those in the fray. I wish you could just make us all see – because then it would all stop – and instead of shouting at each other, or hurting each other we might actually love one another. And we’d use our voices for singing your praises instead.

I can’t bargain with you, Abba. I’ve got nothing to barter with. My sacrifices or offerings, heck even my paltry prayers and mumblings are not really what you’re looking for. What you’re looking for is a chance to help me with my heart.

Scripture says what you’re interested in is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart – but I don’t think that’s quite right. Or at least, something’s got lost in translation. I think what you’re really interested in is a broken-open heart – a broken-open ego – a broken-open me.


[this song was then shared – see our YouTube channel for an audio/video version]


Been taking myself too seriously
I’m all about accomplish, perform and achieve
I’m letting go of pretense, my persona’s not me
I’m stripping the illusion

Been hiding away the things I despise
Failures, limitations, contradictions, lies
I’m letting go of willfulness, let willingness arise
I’m stripping the illusion

Don’t need to be perfect, just humble
As out of my shadow I stumble

I’m feeling heartbroken, heartbroken
I need my heart broken o-pen
I’m feeling heartbroken, heartbroken
I need my heart broken o-pen
my heart broken o-pen,     my heart broken o-pen

I’m longing for a space where I can breathe
With nothing to protect or prove, defend, or plead
Naked so that God can love the me God sees
I’m stripping the illusion