Go..and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father...Son and...the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Create In Me A Clean Heart

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

            Recently we’ve had some warmer days and it’s had me thinking a little about the idea of spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a great time to reduce clutter, to get ready for an upcoming junk day, or maybe just to straighten up some things that you’ve let go for too long. Maybe you rearrange your furniture for a fresh look. Maybe you pull out the junk drawer to declutter it. Maybe you like to take this as a time to go through the closet and donate some of the outfits you haven’t worn in a while. Whatever the case the goal seems to be the same: Clean up!

            We have just begun the season of Lent and the message of this season is actually quite similar. Lent is a time for us to do some spiritual spring cleaning. The Psalmist recognizes this need for some house cleaning in Psalm 51 we hear,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Here we read as the psalmist asks God to clean up his heart. And in the season of Lent we are encouraged to take some time to consider our own need for heart cleaning.

            This season is set aside for penitence and reflection. Penitence comes from the sorrow we feel over the sins we have committed. We develop this penitential heart as we reflect on God’s Word. Recently I was asked about the time of reflection we have in our worship services. There comes a point early in the service where I saw something to the effect of, “We pause to reflect on God’s Word.” What is this reflection all about? What should we be thinking about during this time?

            To answer these questions, I like to go to Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. As Luther addresses the topic of confession and absolution one of the questions he asks is which sins are these that we ought to confess. To which he answers,

“Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?”

Luther gives us a lot to consider here and this is just part of it. Not only ought we to consider what sins we ought to clean up in regard to our vocations but in general how have we sinned? What personal secret sins do we hide. What cobwebs lurk in the corners of our hearts that we should really be dealing with rather than sweeping them under the rug.

            Any cleaning task can seem pretty daunting when you consider it this way though. Looking at the whole of the ten commandments, we’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do. We’ve put plenty of other things before God. I’d venture to guess there’s places where our language can be cleaned up rather than taking the Lord’s name in vain as often as we do. And who among us can truly say we have honored father and mother as we ought or never hurt or harmed our neighbor in some way.

            Every cleaning job needs to start somewhere. So perhaps this lent you may choose to focus on your language, or your.church attendance, or your tithing, perhaps you’ll take some time to tackle one of your bad habits. Whatever the case, recognize that in all of this as the psalmist himself recognized, we need God to be the one to create the clean heart in us. We cannot do it ourselves. It is God who cleans us up. He has washed us with the waters of holy baptism. He has given us His Holy Spirit that we might be led by Him. He has given us His Word that we might not sin against Him. But most importantly He has given us His Son. This is where our lenten penitence and reflection should always drive us, back to the cross, back to Christ. There we find forgiveness. There we receive His grace. There we get clean hearts.

God bless you this Lententide,

Pastor Nathan Peitsch

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St. Matthew Lutheran Church
504 Walnut
Mapleton, IA 51034

Office Hours:
Mon--Thur 9 a.m.--3:30 p.m.

Pastor Nathan Peitsch (Vacancy Pastor) 515-570-8078
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