March 2019

Post date: Feb 26, 2019 6:17:24 PM

Dear Friends in Christ,

During the month of March we are in the season of Lent in the church year. The word “Lent” comes from an old English word meaning “to lengthen”, because the daylight hours are lengthening. So Lent basically means “Spring”. After all the cold and snow of this last February, we are all ready for some springtime.

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, this year on March 6th, and concludes on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus falls this year on April 21st. The 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays, which are always “little Easters.” Scripture tells us, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.” Luke 4:1-2.

During Lent, as Christians we walk with our Savior Jesus in the wilderness and to his cross, his grave and finally, his glorious resurrection. Lent is a wilderness time and a soul-searching time. During Lent we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from love of God and neighbor. The disciplines of Lent-- repentance, fasting, prayer, and works of love—help us to wage our spiritual warfare.

On Ash Wednesday we receive a cross of ashes on our foreheads. It is a reminder of our own mortality and a reminder that we are baptized into the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus died and did not stay dead. I remember kissing my dear Dad’s forehead just before his body bag was zipped up and wheeled away. Dad had died at Guardian Angel Care Center in Richland after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Jesus died and did not stay dead. Therefore Jerry Hickman and every other believer who died also did not stay dead.

For three Sundays in February, our second readings were from 1 Corinthians 15, which is often called the resurrection chapter. The early Christians in Corinth were having trouble grasping the resurrection of the body and the resurrection of the dead. Some even thought their Christian friends who had died before Christ returned in glory had simply missed the boat and were gone forever. The Apostle Paul writes to reassure them that, because Christ has been raised, all the dead in Christ will also be raised. “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those who have died in Christ have perished….But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.” 1 Cor 15:16-20.

Lent fully acknowledges the reality and loss of death and the reality of resurrection life in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As ELCA Bishop Guy Erwin in California says, “Our faith is death-defying: it takes death seriously and faces it unflinchingly.”

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Pastor Dennis