From Pastor Lamb…
AND THE CHURCH SEASON TURNS
Lent means spring. I’m all for that. But, it’s also a little more than that, isn’t it?
Lent is a season observed by people in some churches, including most Lutherans. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year on March 1) and ends approximately six weeks later, just before Easter Sunday (April 16). Although the season of Lent spans forty-six days, we only count 40 as days of Lent because Sundays are not included (they are reserved for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus). The 40-day length commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness in preparation for his public ministry. On the first Sunday in Lent, the gospel reading is always an account of this story.
The early purpose of Lent (centuries ago) was to prepare followers of Jesus Christ for baptism on the eve of Easter at a worship service called the Easter Vigil. We don’t do this at St. James, but some Lutheran churches still do. Instead, we now use these days of Lent to focus our attention on our need for Jesus and his ministry of reconciliation.
As we begin the season by receiving ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday, we have the chance to humbly remind ourselves that we are limited people and we need God. Throughout Lent we may be reminded that, left on our own, we tend to get further from God by making ourselves the center of life. As we hear the scripture readings and sermons of Lent, we may find ourselves moved by God’s Spirit to turn toward God and then find that God has been turning toward us through Jesus. In the midst of this turning, we may discover (again) how space opens up in our spirits for the presence of Christ. In that space, we may find growing connections with God. As our connection with God grows we may find our eyes and our energy turning less toward ourselves and more toward others. All of this is part of the work of reconciliation that God started in Jesus, that is continuing through the Church, and that we ponder during Lent. You can see how good this is, can’t you?
So, in this season we address questions like these: Where is God in our relationships? How does following Jesus help us to build stronger, life-expanding relationships and, in doing so, show others who God is? How can we recognize the presence of Christ in our relationships? Are there relationships in our lives that need reconciliation? What may lead us to better see others as children of God who are loved and cherished just as we are?
As we look at these questions, I pray that we will find ourselves growing closer to God, closer to each other, and more open to the presence and leadership of Christ. I pray that our time in Lent feels like a season of growing hope and faith. I pray that it feels like spring in our spirits.