I need Lent. I suspect that I am not alone in that.
Lent brings a clarity to my life that I need. As days, weeks, and months pass by, I unintentionally fall into ruts. Some of these habits are helpful; but not all of them. I get very accustomed to me – to the way that I do things. In the process, I develop blind spots.
And then comes Ash Wednesday. The service begins with a confession of sins that I need. It addresses the open sins that occur as well as the subtle sins that happen in my life. It speaks of the bad things I did, but also of the good things that I did not do. These moments of reflection and confession help me to see the dangerous ruts that I too often accept. I need to hear, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (That is where Ash Wednesday gets its name – because of sin, each of us in a collision course with death.)
The announcement of forgiveness for our sins could not be sweeter to hear than after a detailed confession of sins. As the Ash Wednesday service circles back again and again to Jesus’ death as payment for our sins I grow in peace and joy. Because of Christ, each of us is restored to be God’s child! The Lord’s Supper on Ash Wednesday is what I need. Jesus gives me himself for the forgiveness of my sins. (Giving the Sacrament on a Wednesday afternoon or evening may make the service a bit longer, but the time is well worth it. Jesus is giving sinners exactly what they need. I am thrilled for the time it takes as each of us communes with our Lord!)
After Ash Wednesday, the midweek services turn their focus to the suffering and death of Jesus. The familiar Passion story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of God saving us by dying for us. The sermons direct us to that victory and offer further assurance of our status as God’s people.
As I focus on Jesus’ suffering and death, God brings clarity to my life. I see my purpose as his servant. You have that same purpose. You might have a different role than I do, but you are also a servant of Jesus. Knowing that he has set you free from sin will make you more eager to use your time and your gifts for the good of God’s kingdom.
But the best part of Lent is how it ends. The message of Holy Week, every moment of it, is what my faith needs. By the end of Holy Week, we will gather for the greatest celebration we have every year. Jesus rose from the dead! The significance of that cannot be overstated. Jesus’ resurrection assures us of life – now and forever!
As a recall my sins and hear of Jesus’ forgiveness and as I walk toward the cross of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection, I find renewed clarity and purpose. I need that. And although it hurts to see and confess my sins, I need that too.
I understand that life is busy, and you have many things to do with your time. I also know that sometimes you have too many things to do and cannot get it all done. But the extra time for worship in Lent is worth it! If something must go undone, do not let it be time with your Savior. Time in God’s Word will benefit the rest of your days. Growing into Christ will give you renewed strength for service and renewed faith to endure.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:11-13 NIV 1984)
We thank Pastor Timothy Wempner of Good Shepherd's for sharing this week's blog.
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