Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lenten Thoughts

This New Testament TEXT (below) reminds us that our time on this earth is very brief indeed. This became clear to me when I saw a recent picture of myself from the back and wondered, "Who is that old guy?!"

All time is fleeting
Swiftly it flies,
Leaving in wake
Hollow shells and death knells.

Lent is just the time for such considerations; it is just the time for us to think about the moment of our lives and the depth of our relationship to the God who is there and who is not silent. I say, not silent, because the message in the Old Testament reading (below) is the message of God speaking to His own people -- repent! repent!

Likewise, then, Lent is the time to think of such things as repentance and restarting our life with God. To repent means we turn back to God and to His ways, and dedicate, or rededicate ourselves to apply those ways in the practice of our day-to-day lives.

Said another way, as we walk through our lonely life in the world it is very easy to become scarred and marred by the secular-soup through we we trod, where more than an occasional spiritual washing is required. But it is easy to forgo this bathing -- it takes time and effort, neither of which are plenteous to us.

So more often than not we walk the road wearing the red dirt of unfaith caked to us as a crusty layer that prevents the spiritual from breaking into our hearts. This is why Lent can be so helpful, for it is a gift in the church calendar that reminds us that the dirt that weighs us down is not really attire for us, for we who name that carpenter’s name are of a different stripe and are of a different way -- the Jesus way.

But there is hope because this means we already know how to repent -- it’s how we started on this journey in the first place. For when we we first believed we also repented and turned our hearts to the LORD -- who is blessed forever. May we take the opportunity that the Lenten Season offers to repeat this and to return to the LORD with our whole heart.

1 PETER 1:3-5; 23-25
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for: "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever." This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

JOEL 2:12-18

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.

Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; Let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.

Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.