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Daily Devotional • March 24

Steven McCain
The Joyful Side of Lent
A Reading from Psalm 95

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
   2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
   3 For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
    4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
   5 The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
    as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
    they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Though Lent is a penitential season, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. In Lent, we are not concerned with repentance for repentance’s sake. Instead, we can rejoice because of what is waiting for us on the other side of repentance — forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is freely given to us, and it propels us toward thanksgiving. So, it is fitting to rejoice and be glad in Lent.

Psalm 95 reminds us that we have reason to sing, rejoice, and be thankful, even in penitence. The Lord our God is this very reason. The Lord is the rock of our salvation who delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into Christ’s kingdom. The Lord is a great God and King above all gods who holds all things and created all things. 

The psalmist takes a personal turn by reflecting on the fact that this is not just any god, but this is our God. We are God’s own people who dwell in God’s pasture. In this verdant place, we are beneficiaries of God’s protection and provision. We receive nourishment from God’s fields, and our lives are sustained. We are the sheep of God’s own hand. Who can possibly separate us from that? We are God’s to have and to hold, to care for and to nourish. We are God’s to love. 

Of course the psalmist invites us to come, worship, and kneel before this God. Surely, our God is worthy of worship. Come, let us sing to the Lord and make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Steven McCain is a seminarian living in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, Benjamin and James. 

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Rumbek – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tennessee
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