Post date: Feb 26, 2020 5:1:50 PM
Dear People of God,
During the month of March, we are in the season of Lent. Lent is 40 days of preparation for the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus. Lent does not include Sundays, which are always “little Easters: little celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection from death. Walk back 40 days from Easter, April 12th this year, and you come to Ash Wednesday, Feb 26th. Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “lengthen”. The daylight hours are lengthening now. This is good news for your seasonal affective disorder pastor!
So, in one sense, Lent can mean spring. People, well, some people anyhow, do some spring cleaning during Lent. Just don’t look closely at my office. They start to do some of those tasks which are just too hard to do in the cold and snow of winter. I like to say that Lent is spring cleaning for the soul. Perhaps we need to clean up some of those not-so-great spiritual habits we have acquired since Christmas? Joel 2:13 is always part of the Old Testament reading for Ash Wed. I think it is a good verse for the whole season of Lent. “Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” We sometimes sing these words as a gospel verse on Sundays during Lent.
Prayer, fasting and alms-giving: traditionally these are the 3 disciplines of lent. Intentionally spending a few more minutes in prayer each day is a great practice for the 40 days. On Wednesdays at 7 pm during Lent, March 4, 11, 18, 25 and April 1, we do the half-hour Holden Evening Prayer service. Of course, the prayer services are preceded by soup and bread suppers at 6pm. Thank you in advance to the ministries for hosting these! Supping together is not exactly fasting, but it is great fellowship time. And the soup suppers are intended to be simple meals. Perhaps the money you save on dinner those nights can be used to “give alms/offerings”. Wednesday night offerings during Lent will be given to ELCA World Hunger. ELCA World Hunger does a great job of helping to feed hungry people and lift them out of poverty both in the U.S. and around the world. Another great way to “give alms” is by giving to our local FISH Food Bank. As part of our own in-house “Munch Madness” this year we are encouraging folks to bring cans of soup and/or protein items, like tuna, spam, canned ham, beefy mac-n-cheese…..for FISH.
I admit that I am not great at physically fasting from food. I have a hard time thinking clearly or functioning well if I am too hungry. On the other hand, physical fasting can remind us and help us to be in solidarity with the billions of people on our planet who go to bed hungry.
Isaiah 58:1-12 was one of our Sunday readings on Feb 9th. The prophet reminds the people that fasting is never just a me-and-God thing, but always involves our neighbors in need. God says, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly: your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:6-7.
Prayer, fasting and giving alms are good ways to deepen our walk with our Savior Jesus. During Lent we follow our Savior Jesus to his cross and grave and finally, at Easter, his glorious resurrection.
Blessings during this season of Lent, Pastor Dennis