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Lenten Devotions: "Mighty This Love"

'mud' photo (c) 2007, Nick Saltmarsh - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions. This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos.  


March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

"Dirty hands, dirty feet/I'm over my head it's made a mess of me/But it keeps you coming back to the/Way of love never stops on easy street/You've gotta walk through the muddy water to come clean." —Lyrics from the song "Dirty Hands, Dirty Feet," by Peter Mayer, R. Scott Bryan, Marc Torlina, and Mac McAnally

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it?  "You've gotta walk through the muddy water to come clean." We hear the words spoken to Adam and Eve, "you are dust and to dust you shall return," (Gen. 3:19).  Ashes are smeared on our forehead. This liturgical action is called "the imposition of ashes." It truly is an imposition because we would rather be thinking about spring training, spring break, or even "the Journey to the Tourney" than receiving the terminal diagnosis that we are "dust and to dust we shall return."

Whenever I hear Peter sing those words—"You've gotta walk through the muddy water to come clean"—I think of Naaman and Elisha (2 Kings 5:1-19). Naaman was a general in the King's army. He was used to giving orders and having those orders obeyed. But, he had a disfiguring disease called leprosy. The prophet Elisha instructs him to bathe seven times  in the Jordan River. Naaman is deeply offended by this ridiculous prescription. However, his staff reminds him that if the prophet had instructed him to do something quite difficult, he would have been open to do it. Naaman does as he is instructed and is healed by the God of Israel.  "You've gotta walk through muddy water to come clean."

King David was caught up in the scandal of his day—"Bathsheba-gate." He had stolen another man's wife (2 Samuel 12). The secrets, intrigue, and politics of his time seem like a precursor to the show House of Cards. Tradition has it that after King David was confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his sinfulness, he wrote Psalm 51 as his prayer of forgiveness: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit."

"You've gotta walk through muddy water to come clean."

So, what part of you needs to go through the muddy water to come clean? What's going on in your life that needs to die so that new life might blossom and grow? This season we will be praying for one another as we make our way from ashes to alleluias.

Blessings on your steps today to come clean. Be confident that there is a mighty love for you.


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