Post date: Feb 27, 2014 5:7:34 PM
On March 5th we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. At 7 pm I invite you to a worship service of confession and forgiveness, the imposition of ashes and the Lord’s Supper. Ashes have long been an outward sign of inner repentance. The forty days of Lent are a more penitential season. It is a time to walk with our Savior Jesus to his cross, his grave and finally, his resurrection. Doing so helps us keep our “theology of the cross” rather than sliding into a “theology of glory and success.” Sundays during Lent are not counted among the 40 days, because they are “little Easters: little celebrations of Christ’s resurrection from death.” Easter Sunday this year is April 20th. Easter is determined as the first Sunday after the full moon, following the Spring equinox on March 20/21. So Ash Wednesday is found by backing up 40 days plus Sundays. Don’t worry. There won’t be a test on that!
Why forty days of Lent? Forty is a very biblical number. The Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. During that time the children of Israel learned to trust God and to be his people. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days in the wilderness as he was tempted by Satan. Our Lord Jesus spent about 40 hours in the tomb of death before God raised him to new and everlasting life.
Traditionally the disciplines of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Done with integrity, these spiritual disciplines help us connect with God and neighbor. We stay in a good relationship with God when we spend time in prayer, Bible reading and worship. We can decrease our focus on self through fasting. If you fast, perhaps the money you would have spent on that meal can be donated to the poor—maybe our FISH food bank. We increase our vision of God’s family when we give alms to our hungry neighbors in need. This can be done with money, time and energy, and gifts of food.
I used this quote from Martin Luther in a sermon during February. I think it fits with the season of Lent, and all of the Christian life. “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being, but becoming, not rest, but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
Serving God and Neighbor with You,