Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord. For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evil doers. Jeremiah. 20:13.  

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Luke 1:46-48.

Praise the Lord!. Our verses today both are from people who are praising the Lord, rejoicing in the Lord and singing to the Lord. Since today is Ash Wednesday, we might wonder a little why the verses selected refer to praise and singing. Sometimes as we start Lent we think only of sadness, giving up something we like for Lent. Might even seem like a depressing season of the church Year.  

Both Jeremiah and Mary are in situations where things aren't necessarily going so well. Mary is pregnant at a young age and is visiting her cousin. She probably was anxious about her pregnancy, anxious about giving birth. Maybe a little worried that people knew she wasn't married to Joseph when she got pregnant. her response is the Magnificat. A beautiful hymn of praise to God in which she rejoices that God is her savior and has looked with favor on her, even though she is a lowly person. Jesus, the savior of the world, is to be born to someone who is lowly. Not someone rich and famous.  

Then we have Jeremiah. Take some time and read a little more of Chapter 20 of Jeremiah, start at verse 7. Most of the chapter is Jeremiah complaining. He even talks about God having caused problems for him. He tells the Lord that he's been enticed by Him that he's become a laughingstock all day long. Violence and destruction is all he sees. He laments all the things that are going wrong. Then right in the middle for a few verses ,he writes that no matter what has happened, he has committed his cause to the Lord. a Lord who delivers the lives of the poor and needy, those that are lowly.  

Lent gives us time to reflect and to focus on what is really important. God is there with us no matter our situation. We can give something up for Lent – or we can start doing something for Lent – such as caring for those in our world who need support and help.      

Gracious God, thank you for looking with favor upon us. Fill our souls with your Spirit. As we begin our Lenten journey with you today, open our hearts and our minds anew to your sacrifice for us. Help us to praise you in the midst of our lives, whether we are happy, or depressed, glad or anxious. We praise you that your love for us is limitless with neither beginning nor end. In Jesus name. Amen.  

Chris Gabel