In the past few weeks, you have heard a lot about our Journey is coming up. This will be a time for us to focus on our guiding principles, meet together in small groups and refocus on who we are called to be as the people of God gathered at Risen Lord Lutheran Church. Make sure you have signed up for a group and pick up your guidebook beginning this Sunday.
Our Journey will line up with the season of Lent. Lent is an ancient time of preparation and re-focusing on our faith leading to the celebration of Easter. It is an intentional time for us to return to God. We will enter in to Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 6 with worship at 10:30 am and 7 pm. Our worship service includes an invitation to Lent, along with the imposition of ashes and holy communion.
Friends in Christ, today with the whole church we enter the time of remembering Jesus’ passover from death to life, and our life in Christ is renewed.
We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance and for God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation. But our sinful rebellion separates us from God, our neighbors, and creation, so that we do not enjoy the life our creator intended.
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, Leader’s Desk Edition p 617)
What is the discipline of Lent?
While we often hear the word discipline to mean punishment, discipline is to mark our lives as disciples of Jesus. Through the ages, many people have discovered disciplines that helped them grow in their faith and to connect with Christ. I encourage you to consider some type of Lenten discipline in the season to come.
Fasting - many people talk about giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent. This is an example of a fast. Rather than thinking about this as a chance to revisit your failed New Year’s Resolution to diet, I encourage you to consider what habits in your life keep you from deepening you life of faith. Perhaps this is the time to fast from Candy Crush and replace it with Bible reading or to fast from your daily latte to save money to give to those in need.
Praying - perhaps Lent is the time to work on developing a personal prayer practice. If you don’t know where to start, you could consider creating a finger labyrinth, tracing the Lord’s Prayer or praying in color. There are also many different prayer or meditation apps that you can use.
Studying - Lent can also be a good time to focus on daily Bible reading. Since we have been reading from Matthew this year, you could choose to read through the gospel during Lent. Or you could use a concordance (or http://bible.oremus.org/) to look up a topic. Right now, my favorite Bible reading app is Read Scripture. If you haven’t signed up yet for a Journey group, that is another great way to begin engaging scripture in this season.
Sacrificial giving and works of love - This is a great time to acknowledge the many things we have been given and our call to share them so that all might have life and have it abundantly. You could engage in the ELCA’s 40 Days of Giving for World Hunger or you could find more ways to support the Johnson County Interchurch Food Pantry such as collecting an item each day from their list or volunteering.
I hope you find a way to focus on growing in faith this season. However you choose to enter the season, I know that God will be with you. If you want more ideas or would like to share what you have chosen, feel free to email me !
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,