From the Pastor's Desk
Grace and peace to you!
Hard to believe we are only one week away from Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, the 40 day church season that culminates in Holy week and Easter.
What has your experience of Lent been? Though Lent is a liturgical season that is part of our Lutheran tradition, I have found that most Lutherans I talk to have not been exposed to Lenten practices before but instead associate Lenten disciplines with other denominations or with fish menus at restaurants.
As far as I can tell, exposure to Lenten disciplines in the Lutheran church varies greatly from congregation to congregation. I grew up at St. Martin’s Lutheran church in Austin. My parents both did not grow up in the Lutheran tradition. Though I do not know exactly how, my parents were taught early on at St. Martin’s about the season of lent and in turn invited my sisters and I at a young age into Lenten disciplines as well.
They explained that we had the opportunity to give up things, or add things on for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The goal of these disciplines was different than a new years resolution to better ourselves. They presented these practices as a time for us to grow in our faith. We could take away something that was creating distance between us and God (food that we leaned on for comfort, social media that we leaned on for affirmation and acceptance, activities or relationships that brought more stress than life). We could add something on that would create more space to connect with God (journaling time, quiet time, bible study, prayer, walks, support for/from a friend, study of the ten commandments).
We would each choose things to do as individuals, and sometimes we would try things together as a family. Sometimes we would tell each other our disciplines to help hold each other accountable, sometimes we would hold them privately between us and God.
For myself, these disciplines served two purposes – some days they succeeded in doing what I hoped they could do – they brought me closer to God. Other days, often much sooner in the 40 days than I expected – they served as a reminder of my humanity on the days that I failed. It was also these attempts at disciplines that truly helped me to understand the concept of temptation.
Either way, my experience of Holy Week was made deeper after participation in these disciplines that allowed space to connect to God in new ways and also to realize anew my humanity. What good is it to approach Good Friday deceiving ourselves that we are blameless? How much more powerful is it to approach the cross knowing full well our limitations and sins and to truly hear that Jesus died for us?
Have you tried a discipline before? Whether you have been a Christian your whole life or a short time, it is never too late to try something new. Interested in trying a discipline but not sure where to start? Ideas for Lenten disciplines will be available in a physical handout Sunday and also in a flocknote (this is our church email program, if you do not receive church emails besides this elink feel free to contact the office at email@example.com to be added to the flocknote emails).
There will also be a sermon series on spiritual disciplines this lent to explore prayer, Sabbath, fasting and confession together.
Looking forward to journeying together this lent!