March 2023

God’s Beloved People,


During the entire month of March this year we are in the season of Lent.  The word “lent” comes from the old English meaning “to lengthen”.  The daylight hours are lengthening now.  So, in one sense, Lent simply means springtime.  The 40 days of Lent correspond to the 40 days Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan.  Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, which was February 22 this year.  To find Ash Wednesday, we back up 40 days from Resurrection Day (Easter), but don’t include Sundays which are always mini-Easters.  And Easter, April 9 this year, is always the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox (March 20).  Don’t worry.  There won’t be a test on this!

In Ellensburg, the month of March is usually a struggle between winter and spring.  As I write this in late February, wind-whipped snow is in the air but daffodils and tulips are poking their little green heads up through the dirt in front of the church.  The weather struggle outside corresponds to the spiritual struggle inside all of us.  As Christians during Lent we are called upon to struggle against those things which tend to separate us from God and neighbor.  Prayer, fasting, confession, worship, Bible study, giving to charity and helping our neighbors in need are some of the disciplines of Lent which help us to do this.  They are not ways to earn forgiveness, life and salvation, which are always free gifts to us from our Savior Jesus.  But these disciplines can help us grow in our relationship with God and help us to love God and love neighbor more fully.  During Lent, we walk with our Savior Jesus to his suffering, cross and grave.  Then at Easter we will be able to fully celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and his resurrection to life everlasting.

  In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare people for baptism, which usually happened on the eve before Easter.  This year we have some longer gospel readings from John for a number of the Sundays in Lent.  March 5 is Jesus and Nicodemus, John 3:1-17.  March 12 is Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, John 4:5-42.  March 19 is Jesus healing the man born blind, John 9:1-41. March 26 is Jesus raising Lazarus from death, John 11:1-45. In the early church all these gospel readings were used to talk about baptism and the baptized life for people preparing to be baptized on Easter Eve.  Let us also reflect on these texts during Lent as we seek to live the baptized life and follow our Savior Jesus in the ways of love and service to others.

Peace in Jesus,  Pastor  Dennis