Dear First United Methodist Church,
I want to thank you for the warm welcome you extended to me and my family during our first month with you. You shared God’s love with us.
In February, we move from Valentine’s Day on February 14th (commercial holiday) focused on romantic love to the season of Lent, focused on returning to the embrace of God’s love through repentance and sacrifice. I realize that many of you come from a wide variety of faith backgrounds or perhaps, no faith background at all before coming to Christ as a seeker. For those in more evangelical traditions, Lent can often be perceived as a hollow ritual calling Christians to repentance (when we should be seeking Christ all year long). I get that, and it is a valid criticism for some traditions associated with Lent.
However, each Christian needs time to refocus their faith on Christ and get a heart check. The season of Lent invites us to intentionally improve our relationship with God and neighbor by practicing spiritual disciplines that strengthen our resolve to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Make no mistake, Lent is not simply giving up something like chocolate or Facebook. Lent is removing the most worldly and gluttonous aspects of our lives that we might fill our lives with the things of God (prayer, fasting, works of piety, works of mercy, and sacrificial giving). The forty days of Lent remind us of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry.
Since Wednesday, February 17th, called Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of Lent, I feel a strong call to encourage the First Church community to draw closer to Jesus Christ, confess our sins both individually and collectively, and follow Christ’s pattern of giving and serving for the glory of God’s Kingdom.
More about the season of Lent can be found here. Let us observe a Holy Lent together.
With Joy on the Journey,
Pastor David Averill