The Pastor's Thoughts
"More than any other discipline, fasting teaches us the things that control us." Richard Foster
"Now is my soul troubled. Ane what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour?' But for this purpose I have come to this hour...Now is the judgement of this world, now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up rom the eath, will draw all people to me." John 12
It's Lent again. It seems like we just celebrated Easter a short while ago and here we are again in the period of preparation of the next Easter morning. Time flies for us, especially as we get older. THe regular event of the year come upon us before we know it and sometimes before we're ready. But ready or not — it's Lent again.
In the Eastern Orthodox churches this season is observed very diligently with a fast from all sorts of foods. Their members aren't ordered to do it, but fast out of a sincere desire to share in the barrenness of the last few weeks of the life of the Lord Jesus. I'm not at all sure the Orthodox churces doen't have something to teach us here — someting about the importance of solemnity and quietude in the lives of the faithful.
There is nothing in Scripture that orders us to observe Lent or to fast. It isn't a command from God nor do we see it practiced in the churches of the New Testament. But its observance comes very early in the life of the Church. This was a time when no one could take a long life for granted, so they understood better than modern Americans seem to how ephemeral life on this earth is. And when the observance of Lent began crucifixion was still part of Roman practice. So they could see what the Lord went through as he bore the punishment for our sins. The Church leaders who instituted Lenten observance did so because they believed it would bring the people closer to God.
And so Lent still can bring us closer to God. But it will only do so if we treat it as an opportunity rather that just someting to do out of tradition or habit. Lent is for us, after all.
So I want to encourage everyone to make this Lent special in your spiritual lives. Make it a time of drawing nearer unto God, seeking the heart of the one who died for you.