Welcome to Lent!

In our Lutheran tradition, Lent is a special 40-day period that we set aside to pay particular attention to how Christ wants us to live and how well we are doing at that. Yes, it’s true that we should ALWAYS be trying our best to imitate Jesus in our daily lives but the busyness of life, the chaos of children’s schedules, the pressures both financial and relational, and so much more can drain our best intentions to be intentional and we lose our Christian focus. Lent is a reminder of our mortality, a call to re-focus, and an opportunity to allow repentance to set the tone for a season of reflection and self-examination. This leads many people to adopt a special practice during the next 40 days that is designed to draw one closer to Christ. Some people engage in acts of self-denial as a remembrance of the sacrifice Christ made on their behalf. Others make a sacrifice for the sake of the planet, like those who are giving up the use of non-reusable plastics during Lent. (See article in Spokesman.) Other Christians add something as a Lenten practice, for example, more Bible reading, worship, and public service. The bottom line is that Lent is a season to intentionally and deliberately focus on drawing nearer to Christ. “Should we be doing that all the time, Pastor?” you may ask. Of course. But in this busy, noisy, and chaotic world, sometimes we need the discipline of setting aside a period of time to intentionally focus on our spiritual growth and maybe those practices we practice in Lent might stick around a while after.

So here’s one suggestion. In our March newsletter, I told you about pilgrims in Spain who carry a rock with them as they walk and eventually lay it at the foot of a cross that has been collecting such stones for generations. I suggested that some of you might want to use some time today to select a rock or pebble from your yard, garden, or wherever to use as a focus object for your Lenten observance. Keep it with you as a reminder of your intention, hold it when you have a time of devotions or prayer, let it accompany you during the season. Then, much as the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, we will lay our rocks at the foot of the cross on Good Friday.

For your meditative purposes, I’d like to suggest “Forty Days with Martin Luther,” edited by Gracia Grindal and published by Augsburg Books, available various places online. It uses Luther’s words, Bible passages, guided questions, a psalm fragment, journaling, and prayer to contemplate your life of faith. You can do as much or as little of it as you are motivated to do.

Whatever you choose to do (or NOT do) for Lent, I pray it will bless you with moments of stillness and clarity. I hope you will see how much God loves you for you.