Lent is an opportunity to hear God’s call

Published 9:15 am Friday, March 11, 2011

By the Rev. Donald Rose, Mansfield and United Lutheran Churches

For many Christians who follow the liturgical year, this past Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, was the beginning of the season of Lent. This season of the 40 days prior to Easter, not including the Sundays, has historically been a time of preparing new participants in the life of faith for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Over the generations it has become a season of humility and penitence as God’s people reflect upon their relationship with God and at the same time their relationships with other people and the world.

Some have described this season as a wake-up call for the people of God. As a result of the powers and the forces of this world along with its false standards of security and well-being, even the people of God can be lulled to sleep and lose sight of that which is most important and fundamental in their lives. Without God as the focus of the life of faith, people begin to do their acts of devotion as an effort to earn favor with the world rather than to worship God. What others think becomes more important than what God has already done and the call that God extends to follow in faithful witness and service.

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Lent becomes an opportunity to once again hear God’s call to awaken and to be renewed in the promise of God’s love and grace.

The traditional practices of devotion, prayer, the giving of alms or material things to help and assist others in need, and fasting, are all intended to remind God’s people that they are dependent upon God and God alone. That on their own they can never have nor accumulate enough to be whole and secure in this world. God alone gives that which makes secure and whole. It is in that relationship of security and wholeness with God, that people are freed to be the people God calls them to be. People, pray and share and fast not to impress anyone but rather to be rooted in the promises of God to care for and to provide for all of God’s children, not just a select few.

Awakened by the reminder that human beings are dust as well as assured of what God can do even with dust, God’s children once again begin that journey with Jesus that will take them to Jerusalem, to the cross, to the empty tomb, and to the promise of life now and always.