“Even now, declares the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with
fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” -Joel 2:12-13
     On March 5th, Christians around the globe will celebrate Ash Wednesday. This traditional holy day in the Christian year marks the start of the season of Lent. The Church of the Brethren does not usually make a big deal of Ash Wednesday, or even Lent. However, there is nothing wrong with remembering its significance.
     Lent marks the journey to Jerusalem and lasts for the six weeks leading up to Easter. It is a time when we, like Jesus, turn our eyes to the holy city, knowing what awaits there: confrontation, temptation,
betrayal, suffering, and death. BUT also new life, communion, intimate prayer, and acts of love.
      In light of this looming threat and time of activity, Christians may use these six weeks as a time of pre-paration, spiritually. The events of Holy Week become even more meaningful after a disciplined journeying through Lent. Throughout Lent this year, we will be worshiping with the theme of Love Feast. On Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, April 17th, our church will celebrate Love Feast, and you are ALL invited. This historic and meaningful meal and service is one of the most important practices in our Breth-ren heritage and for the early church. Thus, we will look at the various parts of the Love Feast, in preparation. My hope is you will learn about its significance and feel the call to attend, no matter what your status with the church.
      Typically Lent calls us to humble ourselves, to confess our sins and weaknesses, and repent of our bad choices and habits, and then to turn to God and recognize our need of forgiving love. The feel of Lent is therefore more subdued, almost gloomy, as we force ourselves to see the darkness that lives within us. Lent can also be a time of rededicating ourselves to serve one another and the world. God does not want us humbling ourselves by beating ourselves up and wallowing in guilt. Isaiah corrects this attitude; rather than punishing ourselves by intense fasting and self-denial, we ought to be about God’s business of correcting injustice, giving to those in need, sharing what we have, and living like Jesus.
     What will you do this Lent to humble yourselves and give back to God?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
-Isaiah 58:6-7

Grace and peace, Pastor Andy