Pr. Ivy is out on medical leave. This is the message she gave March of 2019.
In a matter of days, on Ash Wednesday, we will begin the weeks of Lent that lead
us up to the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. On Ash Wednesday, we
will once again hear these words of invitation:
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against
evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I
invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent – self-examination and
repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love –
strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. Let us continue our
journey through these forty days to the great Three Days of Jesus’ death
and resurrection. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Leaders Desk Edition)
The word “Lent” actually means spring, as in the season of spring. In prayer,
fasting, self-examination and the other works of love, we are looking forward, just
as nature looks forward to spring, in Lent, we look toward the resurrection, to
Easter, a time of glorious celebration of the victory of the risen Christ over death
and the grave.
Some people get stuck on things they think they should give up for Lent like coffee
or chocolate. But it seems to me that we can give up something and still live for
ourselves. God is calling us into something much more, something life-changing.
Through the discipline of Lent, God is calling us deeper into relationship with God.
“self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works
of love” are a means of growth in Christ. It is not a matter of grit our teeth
determination to do these things to be a better Christian, because if that’s the
case, then these are just our own deeds and our own works, which no matter how
nice they look, cannot please God. If we allow God to come near in these times,
“strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament,” we will find ourselves
transformed by our encounters with the Holy One.
Now for a time of true confession—I am not the most disciplined person when it
comes to setting aside special times of prayer, scripture reading or other
disciplines. Getting up any earlier is a struggle. Frankly, I’m in awe of some of my
colleagues and their depth of spirituality. But my hope for all of us is that God
knows our hearts and if we can take just one little step toward God, God takes
leaps and bounds toward us.
Will we take up the challenge being extended to us? Will we get up a few minutes
earlier to hear what our Beloved Lord may speak to us in the quiet? Will we stay
up just a few minutes later to reflect on our day? Join me. By God’s grace, not my
own strength, I will spend more time in prayer, meditation and study of God’s word.
And you know what, I hope to become more like Jesus. “Beloved, we are God’s
children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this:
when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Shall we get a head start?
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