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Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Turlock, CA

Pastor's Thoughts for March 2009


Each month our pastor writes to us from our Turlock church to share his thoughts on a topic of religious significance. His goal is to link the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and apply it to the context of our daily lives. Although each of these messages is dated they are in fact timeless in their spiritual significance.

What Is Lent?

What have you done this last week to observe Lent?

Lent is a special opportunity to slow down and listen. Have you been listening? Our ways of life tend to become routine. Lent is essentially a season of holy contemplation of the reality and mystery of sin in the human heart and of the surpassing love of God as revealed in the suffering and death of his only Son.

Originally Lent was meant to be a tithe of the year (36 days). This included six days a week for six weeks (Sundays were not counted). Eventually four days were added to remember the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

Lent is meant to be a time we set aside to grow closer with God. Lent is also an appropriate time to study the Scriptures. The Bible helps us get close to God's intentions for our lives. Our sermons on Sunday could be labeled "What was God telling us."

The week following Palm Sunday we call "Holy Week" because it climaxes the season, and fixes our eyes on the cross. It thus becomes clear that the preaching and the meditations during the season of Lent should not be centered on the suffering and death of Jesus, but on the spirit of penitence before God which makes possible a correct understanding of the meaning of Holy Week. Some churches do not observe Lent but focus on Holy Week. But the question is whether we understand Holy Week if we do not observe the need for penitence.

Lent is not the doing of penance for our sins, as if doing penance would earn something for us. Christ has suffered for us, once for all, the just for the unjust. We cannot do anything that has merit before God. But we enter into a period of soul searching before God in a keener awareness of our sin (falling short of God's intention) and our need of His love and forgiveness.

Only then can shouting "HE IS RISEN!" bring joy to our hearts.

-Pastor Starkey