Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Making Plans for Lent

Yes, Lent is right around the corner. The season of penitential reflection and baptismal remembrance begins Ash Wednesday, February 21st. Luther may not have had the season of Lent on his mind when he wrote his explanation of the daily significance of Baptism in the Small Catechism, but his words are appropriate.

"What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever." (“Baptism, Part IV,” Small Catechism)

Daily sorrow over sins and turning to Christ in repentant trust is certainly not limited to Lent. The emergence of new life in our hearts through the forgiveness of sins does not end on Good Friday. This occurs in Advent, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, too. But Lent is a special 40-day journey that helps us to focus like a laser beam on all that gets in the way of our relationship to God...and to recall and rejoice in all that our Savior did for us in breaking through the obstacles of sin, death, and hell so that our relationship with God is restored.

Now is the time to start making plans for your Lenten reflection. Certainly it will involve time spent in God’s Word with your fellow believers at Messiah and alone at home. Lutheran Service Book has a year-long schedule of readings that you may wish to use on page 299 that begins on Ash Wednesday. Read through some of the wonderful hymns in the sections for “Lent,” “Holy Week,” “Redeemer,” “Justification,” “Confession and Absolution,” and the new section entitled “Baptismal Life.” Or maybe read through the Small Catechism and its Explanation again as part of your Lenten devotion. The Small Catechism is a great summary of the shape of the Christian life.

Join us also for our midweek Lenten services this year. This year’s theme is “Our Suffering Savior” based on what is known as the “Suffering Servant Song” in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This portion of Scripture gives one of the clearest depictions of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sin of the world. It will be read in its entirety each week so we can have ample time to reflect on the words. Each sermon will deal with a different portion of the “Suffering Servant Song” as we consider and trust in “Our Suffering Savior.” Please refer to the schedule of services on the church website and mark your calendars.

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