Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
We are quickly approaching Lent, Ash Wednesday will be February 26, and our thoughts will turn to repentance and change—the new life of Easter. With these words, “Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and abounding in steadfast love.” (LBW
Lenten Gospel Verse, from Joel 2:13), we prepare ourselves to receive God’s Word during the season of Lent. These words indicate that something is different about our worship service during Lent, that we are making changes in our relationship with God.
Lent revolves around the theme of repentance—a turning around or returning to God and away from our human self-centeredness. We put aside our worldly ways, ways that oppress and dominate us, ways that prevent us from living in the steadfast love of God and we turn back to His ways.
The ways of the world tempt us to doubt and question God’s commitment to us. In the face of loss, illness, depression, or loneliness we often seek to find comfort in the worldly gods—the gods of money, power, and popularity. However, during Lent we repent of our idolatry and turn back to God. We follow disciplines that direct our focus away from the self-centeredness of this world. We take on the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice (acts of love) to demonstrate our sincerity in turning away from that which separates us from God. And rightfully so, Lent begins with confession—a conscious, voluntary examination of how we separate ourselves from God, how we turn in upon ourselves and away from Him; it is a plea to God for help in turning around and returning to Him. During Lent, we seek the God of salvation, the God who steadfastly awaits our return.
Therefore, Lent is a time of our returning to God, of returning to the disciplines of praying and reading Scripture, of fasting in body and spirit, and sacrificing of our broken and contrite hearts. Returning to God is not an exercise of the mind or heart but an actual, complete, and total, revision of our lives.
Therefore, I invite you this Lenten season to redirect your lives away from the ways of the world and return to our Lord. He eagerly awaits us “for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”
In Christ’s service,