We move from the enlightenment of Epiphany to the somberness of Lent in March. As I look at my calendar, there are no other holidays in March. We just have Lent. In fact, most of Lent takes place this month.
The observance of Lent goes back as far as the early 300s with an emphasis on the spiritual disciplines of self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love. These are strengthened in our lives by the gifts of word and sacrament.
So, what's in it for us? This all sounds pretty glum. But it's an opportunity to strip away the distractions that so often keep us from God. I invite you this Lent to dive into a deeper relationship with God and God's people. This is how we grow in our faith.
Most of us were baptized as babies, but we aren't expected to have our faith remain at the baby stage. As we grow, so should our faith. The concerns of a teenager are not the same as the worries of an elderly person who is a shut-in. If we allow God to work in our lives, our faith will grow as we do and will meet the needs of our stage of life.
I admit that the disciplines of Lent are difficult and take time and energy. Why don't we pick one to concentrate on during this time? These are parts of the faith of the kingdom of God that we should be regularly exercising, not just during Lent. Let's take small steps however, so that we don't stumble. No matter which we choose, we will receive benefits.
Our almighty, head over heels in love with us, generous God wants us to become closer to God. As the chorus of "Listen, God is Calling," (ELW 513) declares:
Listen, listen, God is calling,
Through the Word inviting,
Offering forgiveness, comfort, and joy.
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