Pastor John Writes:
Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
We began the season of Lent this year on Ash Wednesday, March 2. For many Christians, Lent remains a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. Ash Wednesday serves as a reminder of our humanity, as we read in Genesis 3:19, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
During our lives — from birth to death, from dust to dust — we experience times of sorrow and joy, repentance and forgiveness, fasting and feasting.
During Lent, a season when we are especially called to remember the life and sacrifice of Jesus, we are reminded to turn our devotion to our Savior.
By tradition, Christians have often fasted or “given up” something during Lent as a spiritual discipline.
St. John Chrysostom, bishop of ancient Constantinople, once wrote words of guidance for those who were fasting:
“Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?
May He who came to the world to save sinners, strengthen us to complete the fast with humility, have mercy on us and save us.”
My hope and prayer is that God will draw us closer throughout Lent, and renew us in our faith, hope, and love during Holy Week and Easter.
Peace to you during Lent, and always,
The Rev. John G. Rights