Ash Wednesday, March 5

Lenten discipline of the day: 

Pray for your enemies.

Sometimes, enemies are not strangers, but people close enough to get under your skin.  You know the kind of people I’m talking about:   A demanding in-law. A rebellious child.  A co-worker whose politics you simply cannot stand.  An obnoxious neighbor who’s always ready to pick a fight over hedge heights or property lines.  An old friend whose success in life you envy so badly you can taste it. Enemies do not have to be those people who threaten us or mean to do us harm. Very often, our enemies are not even aware that they dredge up toxic and harmful feelings in us.  When Jesus told us to love and pray for our enemies, it was for our own sake, I think.  

The psalm for today, Ash Wednesday, is Psalm 51:1-17.  The verse I’ve been turning over and over in my mind is verse 10:  “Create in  me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”  Perhaps a “clean heart” and a “right spirit” begins with praying for those for whom it is hardest to pray, however close or distant that enemy may be.  

Maybe Jesus also knew that more often than not my own worst enemy is — gulp — me.  So I will spend some time in prayer over this Lenten season to receive the wisdom to cut myself some slack every now and then.  

— Pastor Susan