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Pastor’s Corner Pastor Mark Keefer, pastor, Chapel Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa

February 28, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
As you read this, Christians around the world are preparing for the season of Lent. It all begins next week with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a season of reflection, fasting, and prayer. It is interesting to note that Ash Wednesday is not mentioned in the Bible. In fact its origin is non-Christian, instituted by the Roman emperor Constantine who legalized Christianity in the 4th century AD. When Constantine accepted Christianity, he sought to employ the faith as a unification between pagans and Christians into a peaceful unity. The application of ashen crosses on that beginning Wednesday of Lent, to either forehead or back of hand, is a reference to Biblical references to dust and ashes as signs of recognition of our sorrow for sin. Many Christians choose to fast during Lent. It has also been a custom to give up a favorite food or a luxury to dedicate ourselves as a personal sacrifice for all that God has sacrificed for us. However, these pious activities are worthless if not accompanied by acts of compassion. In the 58th chapter of the OT book of Isaiah, the people ask God, ‘What’s the right thing to do? We fast and you don’t look our way. We humble ourselves and you don’t even notice.’ God responds, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” God calls us to be in relationship with those who live lives different than ours, to welcome them into our lives, and to be with those whom society rejects and marginalizes. When we pour out our lives for the outsider, our prayers and fasting reach God and our lives become light for those in darkness. Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent is a time for us to examine our lives and work to eliminate habits that distract us from the holy lives we can pursue. It is a time when we ask our Creator to create our hearts anew. It is a time to appreciate the power God has given us to be a positive impact in the world, to appreciate the grace that has been shown to us in Christ that we may show grace to others, and a time that the Holy Spirit’s presence with us can guide us into harmonious relationships with our neighbors. May your season of Lent not conclude with Easter, but be the beginning of a renewed relationship with God and all humankind. I pray to see you in worship with other seekers of peace within and without. See you in worship.
 
 

 

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