St John Lutheran Church Dickinson, ND

             
LENT CAN BE A CONFUSING SEASON
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The season usually starts with a reading from Matthew 6:1 on Ash Wednesday, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” How striking that millions will cover their heads in ashes and begin a 40-day period of rituals and fasting!

 

The confusion continues for many after Ash Wednesday, as the season unfolds almost somberly. The tone of Lent worship is often quiet, penitent, and dark. All the while the snow is melting, the days get longer, the temperatures get warmer, and the Earth begins to bloom. The emotion of our worship doesn’t quite match the excitement of springtime.

 

But perhaps the most confusing aspect of Lent is the widespread practice of giving something up – chiefly the practice of giving up food. It is striking that Lent begins this year on March 1st, smack dab in the middle of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. So while Christians everywhere will be

lamenting all the foods they sacrificed this year, what will the millions of Americans who struggle with eating disorders hear?

 

Yet the even bigger question about this widespread practice is: what does fasting teach us about God and the Christian life? Back in the 1500’s, Martin Luther was already skeptical about this Lenten

practice. He wrote, “Lent has become mere mockery because our fasting is a perversion and an

institution of man. For although Christ did fast forty days, yet there is no word of his that he requires us to do the same and fast as he did…we should see to it that we have his Word to support our actions.”

 

Luther saw how inwardly focused Lent had become. The people in his day turned the season into an opportunity to better themselves and their position before God through their works. Rather than reflect on Christ and the trials he endured for our sake, people were more concerned with their own trials. So

Luther called for a change - let Christ’s commands guide our actions. And what does Christ command?

    

        Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).

 

So here is our challenge. How will we let these two commandments guide our journey through Lent? Rather than give up food for the sake of doing it, what could we do that would actually help us deepen our relationship with God? What things could we give up or what practices could we add to our lives for the sake of those less fortunate than us?

 

That is the point of Lent. These 40 days, we will journey together as a community toward the most

important event in the history of the world: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This isn’t a gift that is meant to be experienced alone. It is a gift with the power to transform us and our relationships with God and with our neighbors near and far.

 

                                                                                                By Joe Natwick,

                                                                                                     Associate Pastor

 


WORSHIP TIMES
September - May
Sundays 8:00 & 10:30 am
Wednesdays 6:30 pm (Camp-style service)
Thursdays 7:00 pm

June - August
Sundays 8:00 am & 9:30 am
Thursdays 7:00 pm
CONTACT INFO
St John Lutheran Church
146 6th AVE W
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 225-6747
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