The Lenten season is upon us. As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we observe the forty-day season in the Christian year from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, excluding Sundays. It is our time to recall Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the desert as well as the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Also of note, the word Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word for spring, lencten, referring to the lengthening of days. Traditionally, Lent has been a time of repentance often emphasized by the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Repentance is still an important part of our life of faith as we recognize places in our lives that need to change if we are to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. In ancient Israel, God often sent prophets to call his wayward people to repent from their sinful ways. Their primary complaints about the Israelites were that they engaged in a great deal of idolatry, worshiping gods other than Yahweh, and they perpetuated a great deal of injustice, failing to treat one another as God commanded. In other words, they did not love the Lord their God with all of their being, and they did not love their neighbor as themselves—the two greatest commandments according to Jesus (Matthew 22:36-40). Of course, injustice always springs from idolatry. When we do not devote ourselves fully in worship to the God in whose image we were made, we become less than fully human and treat others in inhuman ways. A commitment to justice and a concern for our neighbor comes from developing the lenses of God’s merciful kingdom, which are born from a life of worship. As we read through the prophets, we find again and again this summons to right worship and right living.
This year during Lent, I will be preaching from the prophets of Israel who will challenge us in our worship and our living. We will look at Haggai, Jonah, Isaiah, and Zechariah. Hopefully, they will open our eyes to ways we each need to repent so that we might become more faithful followers of Jesus and a more faithful church. I hope you will join us as we journey together toward the cross and resurrection.
The Lent Season at IPC