Lenten Devotional: First Week of Lent (Sun., Mar. 10 – Sat., Mar. 16)


Sunday, March 10

This week’s theme: Glory be!

Psalm 19

The word “glory” means “magnificence” or “splendor.” Though the Psalms speak of God’s glory in manifold ways, the Israelites believed that the radiant presence of Yahweh — described later by rabbis as shekinah — resided most powerfully in the holy of holies, that inner sanctum where the ark resided. Only the high priest could enter this private place. When Jesus died on the cross, we hear that the curtain that separated the inner sanctum from mere mortals was torn in two, giving us all access to God. This is a powerful way to describe our Lenten journey. Glory is not just for those with spiritual gifts. It is here for all if we open our senses more fully.

▲ Visio Divina — Guided Meditation

God’s glory is everywhere, even on rugged  mountains covered with low-hanging clouds.

Quiet your mind, close your eyes and say, “God’s glory is here.”

Now open your eyes and note what in this picture your eyes are drawn to.

Spend a few minutes pondering that part of the picture.

After a few minutes, gaze at the entire picture.

What new things do you see?

What emotions does this picture evoke?

Now say a prayer of thanks to God.

Monday, March 11


The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. — Psalm 19:1

We all know people gifted at handiwork. It may be quilting, woodcrafting, mosaics or stained glass. Their ability to create beautiful forms from small, intricate pieces amazes us.

Psalm 19 speaks of God’s handiwork in the heavens, but we can train our eyes to notice our Creator’s design everywhere. We can see iridescent rainbows in a dragonfly’s wings, the bright colors of lichen on an alpine boulder, the deep pools of light in the eyes of our cats, or the wrinkles of wisdom on the foreheads of our elders. We begin to notice repeated fingerprints, like spirals displayed from galaxies to nautilus shells, the rings of trees to our very fingerprints.

The English poet William Blake wrote: To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour.

God is the designer of both the macrocosm and microcosm, and training ourselves to see this glory everywhere is a journey filled with beauty.

Glorious Creator, focus our eyes to see your handiwork as we walk through our allotted days. Amen.

Tuesday, March 12

Hearing the hidden language

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. — Psalm 19:2–4a

These are mysterious words that draw us deeper into the present. There is a silent language in Creation that pours forth, day and night, for those attuned to its discourse. The ’60s rock band the Moody Blues said it this way in their iconic song “Tuesday Afternoon”: “Something calls to me. The trees are drawing me near; I’ve got to find out why. Those gentle voices I hear explain it all with a sigh.”

To hear the hidden language in the silence around us is at the heart of mindfulness. Again, we don’t need to be mystics. There are many ways to access this inner knowledge: meditation, journaling or silent walks in the countryside. We can find it in corporate worship with others, especially during times of quietude. It is not so much the chosen discipline, but the intention, that will help us fine-tune our spiritual antennae.

Loving God, give us ears to hear the language in your stillness. Amen.

Wednesday, March 13

The course of joy

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. — Psalm 19:4b–5

The ancient Greeks described the course of the sun as Apollo driving his brilliant chariot across the sky from east to west. Long before that myth, David used a different poetic image. The sun, he says, is like an eager bridegroom that emerges from his canopy, filled with the joy of his impending marriage, ready to run his life’s course.

What a wonderful way to think of the sun’s rising and setting. Not as a repetition we take for granted, but as a daily celebration of God’s bounty for our planet. With new awareness, we celebrate the joyous course of the sun as it dances on the surface of water, filters through trees, or paints its golden colors on the clouds of a sunset horizon.

Jesus once said, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” Mindful people train their lamps to see the sun’s radiance in all its forms, one day at a time.

Gracious God, thank you for the daily display of your goodness in the course of the sun. Amen. 

Thursday, March 14

The warmth of God

. . . and nothing is hid from its heat. — Psalm 19:6b

I love to travel, and here in my home state of Texas I have visited some remarkable caverns. The guides who led our descents had their own variations of a simple practice. When we reached the lowest level underground, they turned off all the lights.

The heavy darkness that followed is perfectly described by the old saying “I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.” It doesn’t take long for it to become suffocating, until every cell in our body longs for a flickering of light.

Psalm 19 says that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun. The presence of God suffuses all things. If we think of this another way, we can mindfully choose to experience God in all our circumstances. I think of Viktor Frankl saying that even while he was imprisoned in Nazi death camps, his tormentors could not steal his joy at seeing the sun rise behind barbed wire.

As we become more mindful of the warmth of God’s love, it banishes the darkness inside us. Perfect love casts out fear.

Thank you, God, for the warmth of your love that envelops all things. Amen.

Friday, March 15

Pure reverence

. . . the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever . . . — Psalm 19:9a

It has been said more than once that there is very little purity in this world. Human pollution taints our ecosystems. Societies are riddled with injustice and the corruption of power. Even the holiest among us are prone to self-serving motives.

And yet, this verse from Psalm 19 speaks of a purity we can all experience. The Hebrew word yare, most often translated as fear, is more aptly described as reverence. So, to rephrase this verse: reverence for God is pure, enduring forever. Translated in this way, Proverbs 9:10 says, “Reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . ..”

Awareness of God’s radiant presence brings us into this state of devotion. It becomes pure because it pushes out competing preoccupations and makes way for the Spirit. It endures because it lifts us into a state of mind in which we are cognizant of eternity, not just our temporal span on this earth.

We live in a world where so much of the sacred has been stripped from our lives. When we become people of purer worship, we also become the salt and light that Jesus calls us to be.

O God, fill us with reverence for you. Amen.

Saturday, March 16

The X-ray of mindfulness

But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. — Psalm 19:12

Jesus angrily denounced religious practices that satisfy outward obligations but never get to the heart of our motives. He described the Pharisees of his day, who often felt superior because of adherence to purity laws. But Jesus insists that we examine our hearts.

But who can really do this? Are we capable of seeing the fullness of what separates us from God, those qualities we often label sin? We all have blind spots.

This is one of the great truths of becoming more mindful. It opens us up to the X-ray of God’s presence. It is the Spirit, not our own willpower, that reveals to us the areas in which we need to get back on track.

In the closing words of Psalm 139, David made himself vulnerable by praying these words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

O God, reveal the deepest motives of our hearts and lead us back to you. Amen.