From the Pastor – March 2023
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Lent has come around again! That means spring is near, growth and new life are just around the corner. Lent is the age-old term we give to the time we spend intentionally preparing for Easter. It is asking the question, “how and in what ways can I be reunited with God?” It means spiritual growth, but I am always amazed at all the tangible and practical things we do to grow spiritually. Lenten practice has often included mid-week chapel services, soup suppers, Bible study, devotionals, service to others and prayer, just to name a few.
In some denominations, people have chosen to “give up” something for Lent. This is an ancient practice that has it’s roots in practical application. In medieval Europe, the next three months had been the time of greatest food insecurity. Whole communities were at real risk of malnutrition or worse. To combat this food insecurity, people would decide to give up a certain food source during Lent to better ensure their family members would survive. In this way, they were participating in the sacrificial love of Jesus. This came into its fullest expression when whole denominations would give up red meat for the duration of Lent.
This practice continues to the present day in a number of forms. Sometimes people will give up chocolate for Lent for better blood sugar numbers. Some people choose this time to focus on healthier food choices and portions. Others use this time to focus on healing from problem drinking for their own health. All of these are good and meaningful things to do any time of year. Should the practice of giving something up for Lent be appealing to you, I would remind you that verse 7 of the Micah text quoted above asks what sacrifices are pleasing to the Lord. What are we to give to God? To which God responds again with grace. Growing in faith in many ways means trusting in God’s grace. It’s not the act of self sacrifice, deprivation, or personal will power that brings us closer in relationship with God. Jesus gave of himself so that we could be whole. Perhaps our best response to God’s work is gratitude for the gift. And then to love the people the God loves by sharing kindness, compassion, and mercy.
As you choose your path this Lenten season, let God’s grace be your guide. It is less about what we do for God and more about celebrating what God has done for you. All that God requires is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.