A Lenten Message

       On Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, we - the Church, the Body of Christ -
enter a new season of reflection, confession and prayer called Lent. Lent is a 40-day
remembrance of Jesus’ time in the wilderness where He prepared himself for His
ministry by fasting and praying. During this desert experience He was tempted in
every way by Satan, yet, He remained sinless.
       Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Holy Saturday, the day before
Easter. If you were to count the days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday,
you would find there are more than 40 days. That’s because Sundays are not counted.
Each Sunday is a mini Easter commemorating the Resurrection.
       The liturgical churches have done a good job in carefully delineating the
seasons of the church, but I think all Christians, regardless of their denominational
affiliations, should pay closer attention to the meaning and tradition behind the
       Lent should be a time of cleaning house. A time of confessing our shortcomings
and setting our houses in order before the celebration of new life begins. Isn’t that,
after all, what we are called to do as Jesus-followers? Are we not seeking the narrow
way each and every day? Are we not, having been justified by Christ, now daily called
to allow the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to complete the work in us that was
begun by His blood? If we Love Him, truly love Him, because He first loved us,
because He gave His life up for us, couldn’t we… shouldn’t we… pause and reflect, and
clean up our act in remembrance of and respect for His sacrifice?
       Many people choose to mark Lent by giving up something as a way to focus on
the season. And that’s fine… there is nothing wrong with that sacrificial mindset. But,
I want to encourage you today to make this Lenten season more than just 40 days of
giving up cokes and/or red meat. Make this Lenten season a real heart-check wherein
you learn something meaningful about your relationship with your God and your Savior.
You see, we can reduce the season to a new diet plan, a recommitment to exercise
more, or a do-over for our failed New Year's resolutions... or we can do something
truly radical with the season by really examining ourselves with respect to discerning
God's purpose for our lives and our relationship with Christ.

       Jesus' journey to the cross is a set of pivotal, historical events in human
history, but more than that, it is the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, Divine
Providence and has eternal, spiritual significance. It deserves, in the very least, a
season of reflection from us, especially as the beneficiaries of the magnificent gift.
As we worship in a solemn Ash Wednesday service this season, the most important
things that should impress us are His love for us and His selfless sacrifice. And that
sacrifice is personal. That sacrifice is intimate. Christ willingly went to the cross for
me. Every sinful and selfish act in my life nailed Him to the wooden beams. And so I
am compelled to ask myself the question: Am I living a life worthy of His selfless act?
Can I ever repay Him for taking the punishment for my transgressions? Is there
anything I can do that will ever make up for His suffering? And the answer is “No, of
course not.” And therein lies the point!
       We should be reflecting on these internal questions, not because we can ever
reach a conclusion different from the one we’ve already reached… that we can never
repay Him for the cross… but because of the realization that Christ gave Himself for
us, loved us so completely, in spite of our unworthiness... acceptance of that truth
restores and redeems our lives to the Holy God!
       Beloved, I implore you... spend this Lenten season in humble, thankful
reflection for the free gift of mercy and grace lavished on you by your Father in
heaven. How extravagant is His Agape (unconditional) Love that He would give His one
and only begotten Son so that those who believe on Him should have eternal life!

      By His Grace,
              Pastor Steven †  

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