Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Psalm 51: 1-12 and Isaiah 1: 16-18

I’m no artist, but I do enjoy dabbling with paint. For the last few years I’ve been experimenting with acrylics; before that I always used watercolours.

Whenever I look at a blank sheet of paper I feel a mixture of excitement and anticipation. I see the paper’s whiteness, its texture. It offers so many possibilities, but I’m often reluctant to start painting, because it could be the beginning of something good or (more often) a complete failure.

When I do begin, the first washes of watercolour usually feel good. That lovely blue running boldly across the sky, the texture of a cloud edge on the rough paper, and above all the happy accidents – the gifts when one colour runs into another just right.

More often, though , it begins to go wrong. The more washes I put on the muddier it all gets. The more I try to correct it, the more faults I see. I can’t seem to realise my original idea. Yet another spoilt picture. Another sheet for the waste-paper basket.

The story of my life. Getting up each morning, looking forward to the day. And what I make of it depends on what I put into it, what other people contribute and those happenings which are God’s gift. And they’re the most important, and the most reliable.

But above all, the thing which gives hope to each new day is the clean sheet in front of me, given through God’s grace, God’s forgiveness of my past failures.‘Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow’ says the Psalmist.

The Lord, speaking through Isaiah says ‘Though your sins are scarlet, they may yet be white as snow.’

Lent is a time for new beginnings, a time for putting our past failures behind us, for asking God for his forgiveness, and then starting out with him again, with a clean sheet.