Posts tagged Lent
It snowed in St. Louis last night. A blanket of four inches of perfect white piled up very neatly, flake by flake, on every surface with anything close to a horizontal plane. It would have been quite something to watch. But it happened while most of us weren’t watching, winter’s reminder of another blanket of white that covered the earth one other night while most were sleeping.
We celebrated that night recently, the night when the world slumbered in the cold wintry grip of a long winter’s night of sin and death. Snow had been in the forecast, broadcast by prophets centuries earlier: “Behold,…! Unto us…! But thou Bethlehem…!” One had it predicted most accurately, a major snowfall, a perfect covering of white: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow!” But few were still watching when it snowed that night–a blanket of salvation sufficient to cover the earth and all mankind.
Last night’s gentle snowfall in St. Louis served as a reminder of the season past. But it was more. It was also perfectly timed to awaken us to the season soon upon us, when we will watch and remember again how it was that our though-as-scarlet sins were covered, leaving us white as snow. Today in the Soulard neighborhood of our city is the increasingly popular dog parade, marking (and marketing) the beginning of another Mardi gras celebration that will lead up to Shrove Tuesday and the season of Lent. Even putting the best construction on the parade’s purpose, we really wouldn’t need it this year. We need only look out the window this morning. We had the best of reminders last night, a blanket of four inches of perfect white,…while we weren’t watching.
Have you ever realized what a great evangelism opportunity Lent is? Here you have six special Wednesday evening services (many congregations even serve dinner), each service focused on some aspect of our Lord’s Passion.
In many of our churches the passion history is even read as part of these services (if not, why not ask for it?). Even if the passion is not read, the services will be Christ-centered and cross-focused.
What an opportunity! It’s ready made for inviting friends and family who do not know Jesus or have become disconnected from Him to come to church with you.
What an opportunity for your church to live out the fact that it is a mission outpost where Jesus gives life. Lent is a great time for your church to look for new ways of bringing the Gospel into your community. Everyone in your town belongs to a church? Don’t be fooled. Demographic studies show there is no portion of our country where church goers number more than 50% of the population. Not one. Wherever you are, your congregation HAS a mission field!
Find those people and invite them to church with you this Lenten season. They’re all around you – at work, school, in your family. Now is the time (Lent is only two weeks old) for you to talk to your pastor and to the leadership of your congregation regarding what your church will do to bring people to worship during Lent and Holy Week. Now is the time for you to pray about whom you will invite to come with you.
Some of you may feel embarrassed doing this. That’s OK. Do it anyway! Perhaps you think your church is too small or there are too many problems. That’s OK. No church is perfect, but we do have a perfect Savior, Jesus, who will make up for any imperfections on our part.
Besides, Lent is all about living in repentance – indeed, the whole of the Christian life is one of repentance and faith in Christ crucified for us. In the book of Acts, when Paul finishes his speech to all the Greek philosopher types on Mars Hill in Athens, he tells them,
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed, and of this He has given assurance to all people by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).
That’s why Lent is an evangelism opportunity. To repent is simply to turn around – to turn away from sin to see Jesus crucified for us. It’s a turn around worked by God, but He uses us to extend the invitation to others. No one is left out, all are included. But there’s only one way, and His name is Jesus.
He lived for us, offered Himself for us and then died for us. Rising from the dead, He gives new life to all who believe in Him. Remember, at the end of Lent waits Easter with the Resurrection of our Lord.
What a fantastic Easter this will be for someone you bring with you to church this Lent, for whom God’s Spirit has the opportunity to work repentance and faith in Jesus! Then will come true for that person, and I pray also again for you, the words of Paul in Ephesians:
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light!” (5:14).
Bring someone with you on your Lenten journey of faith. Jesus will be with you on the way. For Jesus gives life at 6000+ mission outposts – the congregations of the Missouri Synod – and your church is one of them!
+Herbert C. Mueller
First Vice President
As Lent begins, Rev. Matthew Harrison invites us to join him in praying “The Litany,” profound words long prayed by the church in times of need. “This is a time of need, both for our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and for Christianity around the world,” Harrison says from the kneeler in his office where he begins each morning at the LCMS International Center in prayer. Harrison shares the prayer’s history and words.