Forest Lake Talks

Ash Wednesday Service

February 25, 2020

Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalm 51

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

What a simple yet powerful prayer! As I read this psalm of lament, I realize there’s a lot to unpack from this plea. I break this down into 3 steps:

Step 1: Ask for a clean heart: Do you remember the last time you spilled something on your nice clothes before your important meeting? The time you literally could only put a little water on the stain and hope it disappears? It didn’t work, unfortunately, because you needed something else to remove the stain. The reality is there are some internal blemishes that can only be wiped clean when we appeal to God and ask God to do what we cannot do on our own.

Step 2: Receive the new spirit: Through petitioning God, we are given a chance to begin again. Walter Brueggeman describes this as the following: “The “wind to live is a gift from God” and “life-giving wind is wholly God’s gift.”[1] This new spirit gives us life!

Step 3: Be receptive to the right spirit: The “right” spirit is our gift once we ask for a clean heart and receive the new spirit. In essence, this cannot occur without a clean heart and receiving a new spirit. You can’t jump to step 3 without the first two steps!

We must empty ourselves and yield to God’s power. Only when we do this can we receive this right spirit.

Please join us at the church on Wednesday night, February 26, for our Ash Wednesday service. See you at 6 PM. A nursery will be provided.


[1] Walter Brueggemann. The Message of the Psalms. (Minneapolis: Augusburg, 1984), 100.

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