Pastor John Writes:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
What is hyssop? In the Old Testament, hyssop was a plant that grew everywhere, springing out of walls, and even growing in the desert. It was used for ritual cleansing purposes, such as the cleansing of lepers, according to the law. Hyssop was dipped into the sacrificial blood of an animal and sprinkled seven times on a person needing purification.
In Exodus, God instructed the people of Israel to use hyssop like a paintbrush, dipping it in lamb’s blood, and marking their doorposts in order for death to pass over them. At Jesus’ crucifixion, the Roman soldiers offered Jesus a drink of sour wine on a sponge at the end of a stalk of hyssop. After drinking, Jesus declares “It is finished” and then bows his head, and gives up his spirit. Just as blood and hyssop had been used in the Old Testament to purify a defiled person, in a similar way, the blood of Jesus purifies us from our sins.
We often read Psalm 51 as Lent begins, as a reminder of our own humanity, our own sinfulness, and our need for a Savior. For many Christians, Lent remains a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. We pray for God to create a clean heart in us, and to put a new and right spirit within us.
How does Lent find you this year? In what ways do you need to be cleansed, what do you believe needs to be purged from your life? May we use this time of Lent to re-examine ourselves, to recognize our sinfulness, and to renew our faith. And may God bless us and strengthen us throughout this journey, restoring unto us the joy of our salvation.
The Rev. John G. Rights