12/15/2015 1:15:29 PM
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ
Lent comes upon us early this year. Easter will be on March 23rd -- which is almost the earliest date possible. As you may know, the date changes each year because it is based on the date of the Jewish Passover. Passover in turn is an agricultural festival with the date tied to a lunar calendar. That is why the date varies from year to year. The date of Ash Wednesday is fixed to allow forty weekdays before Easter so will be February 6th. Out Lenten worship schedule begins with the imposition of ashes and Holy Communion on Ash Wednesday. As in the past we will have a Lenten meal each of the next five Wednesdays followed by Holden Evening Prayer. Please plan to be with us each week as we prepare for the celebration of our Lord's Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
There are three disciplines that are usually associated with this season. It is sometimes said that we pray for the good of the spirit, fast for the good of the body and give alms for the good of the soul. It is fair to ask, Should we not always be doing those things? However, we do not live our lives is a static way. Our activities and the intensity with which we do things is affected by the ebb and flow of our daily life. Lent provides a time for special emphasis on these aspects of our daily life.
Prayer involves our communication with God. Most folks think of it as asking God for something but there are many aspects to prayer. It is also thanking and praising God. Think of some of the phrases we use in our worship prayers: Blessed are you, o Lord our God...,We praise and glorify your Holy Name...,Thank you, Father..., and of course hallowed be Thy Name.... We also offer prayers of intercession for others: the sick, the troubled, those who are imprisoned, family, friends, neighbors, strangers, our community and nation, the coming election and our political leaders, our congregation and the larger church, our enemies, rain, agriculture, the spread of the Gospel, business and industry, those who have not yet come to know Christ, and so on. And, of course, ourselves that we may grow closer to God and be more faithful in our walk with Christ. As we come to the end of Lent we normally have a special opportunity for prayer at a prayer vigil on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Alms are those offerings we give to help the poor and the suffering. Again this year -- apart from Lent -- we will observe Souper Bowl Sunday and you will have an opportunity to bring canned soups and cash gifts to be used for Main Street Mission. Then, throughout Lent we will use the coin boxes to receive an offering for Lutheran World Hunger. Why do we use coin boxes?We use the boxes because they encourage us to think daily of our many blessings and of the needs of others. You can certainly write a check or give cash. However, if we remember each day to take our change and put it in the box we will be reminded of both blessings and needs. It is in that act of discipline that we seek to take our faith from the abstract to the real.
Last week Ken Bradley came over and we burned the accumulated fallen branches and trimmings from the shrubs. The pile was quite large and burned for a good while. As I watched and spread the coals in the darkness they were quite beautiful. It was rather like what I imagine deep space to be like in one of the star clusters where new stars are being formed. As I continued to spread them out they gradually cooled. In the end I sprayed them with water and they went out. It occurred to me the process was much like our faith. As long as we stay close to the core -- Jesus -- our fire of faith burns bright. But as we drift away from regular prayer, Bible reading, and especially worship with other Christians, our fire goes out. This Lenten season gives an opportunity for us to move closer to the fire that is Christ. Please join in the disciplines of Lent. More importantly, make time to come share in worship and be warmed by the rest of the coals as together we witness to the light of Christ!
In His love and service,