Once again we’re about to make a transition from one season to another. Epiphany bridges the Advent / Christmas seasons to the Lent / Easter seasons. We may think of Lent as a somber time, but our approach to the Lenten season should be far from dreary. Lent tells us that Easter is coming! And, for us at Trinity, let’s resolve to make this year’s Lenten season a joyful and fruitful return to the gifts God offers in His house!
Lent – what’s it all about?
It’s a time of the Church year. It’s not commanded or instituted by Christ in the Scriptures. It’s a human idea that is related to piety and worship, because it calls our attention to our walk with the Lord. It’s a time when we’re intentionally focused on the exercise of our faith in Jesus. It’s a season of repentance, in preparation for the glorious Easter celebration.
What is repentance?
It’s a change of heart, from pride to contrition, in keeping with our faith that God will forgive our failure to live purely in accordance with His laws. It’s a work of the Holy Spirit within us that changes our defiance and despair into hope and trust.
What are some ways to help us do this?
Surely we’ve all heard our Roman Catholic friends and family talking about their Lenten discipline of “giving something up.” That is consistent with their understanding that repentance is connected with “doing penance” to show the sincerity of their change of heart.
In the Reformation Lutherans came to understand that God doesn’t need that kind of service or evidence. What God desires is our awareness of our broken spirit, because He rebuilds us on the foundation of Christ. If there is a Lutheran way of Lenten exercise, it would be in more frequent worship, prayer, and reading the Word of God.
How do we do this as His people?
During the Lenten season we offer more opportunities for worship. We have midweek services from Ash Wednesday until Holy Week.
We have resources for home devotions. Each year we offer daily devotions for use in our homes. They also make good gifts for our friends and conversation starters for our neighbors.
You may also want to consider setting aside time for personal or family prayer. Nothing fancy or complicated – just a regular time to bow your heads together, offer God your attention, and speak what’s on your hearts. God loves that time with His children!
May I offer a Lenten resolution?
We’re too often dismayed at the small turnout of people to worship with us in church. This year, let’s make a concerted effort to support each other with our presence in worship. If you’re an irregular participant, strive to make it at least every other week. If every other week is your starting point, make it at least three out of four. Try the Wednesday evening services, beginning February 14th, and see if they aren’t a refreshing way to bolster your appreciation for God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
Who will benefit from this resolution?
Certainly you will. More participation in God’s means of grace will be a blessing to your week. But, the blessing you will be giving to your brothers and sisters in Christ should not be underestimated. There is joy in coming together as one people under God’s grace. You are invited to help us renew our emphasis on meeting as sinners made saintly by the grace of the One who calls us to follow Him.
Together, as His people, let us go into the house of the Lord!