This newsletter finds us right in the middle of Lent. The remembrance of Lent goes back to A.D. 325 when, at the Council of Nicea, the church leaders decided to observe a forty day period of repentance and sacrifice. Just as Israel wandered in the Wilderness for forty years and Jesus fasted in the Wilderness for forty days, so the church leaders decided that we should set aside some time to reflect on Jesus’ suffering and sacrificial death.
During this time period people were to examine their faith, their relationship with God, and draw nearer to God through prayer, worship, and meditation. Part of that “drawing closer” was to “give up,” sacrifice something to remind us of the sacrifices that Jesus Christ made.
The other day a young man told me he gave up candy and cookies for Lent, just as he was opening a box of cookies. He said, “It didn’t last long.” A man I knew, would give up smoking for Lent and happily, on Easter Sunday, he would open a pack of cigarettes and start his habit all over again. I don’t think this is what those church leaders of Jesus had in mind.
In the gospel of John, Jesus said. “Love one another as I have loved you,” and “if you love one another the world will know you are my followers.” The emphasis is on ACTION and not on GIVING SOMETHING UP. ‘Loving ACTION’ for us began on Christmas Eve when we stocked the Waukee Food Pantry with a car full of groceries. It continued when we purchased a furnace for a person. It continued on the Sunday before Lent began when we once again stocked the Food Pantry with breakfast items. And ACTION is still going on as we give toothbrushes, tooth paste, towels, bars of soap, combs, and nail clippers to those who have nothing.
We are indeed a blessed people and it is our privilege, our ACTION of Christian love to care for those who cannot help themselves. Every time there has been a need, you have stepped up. We didn’t need to beat you over the head, but you were made aware of a need and you stepped up and came through.
During this season of Lent, let us remember the King’s words: “When you did it to the least of these my siblings, you did it for me.”