Pastor's Desk: Lent is remembering

Pastor's Desk February 2020


He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Dear Freinds,

It is the beginning of March and Fasnacht [Carnival] is over, which means that we are entering another Lenten season. Two days ago our congregation went to Kreuzlingen for Ash Wednesday, and it was such a joy to give ashes and Communion while worshiping with the Stadtkirche community. But apart from ashes and Communion the greatest joy was remembering, for Lent is a time of looking back and recalling three important things.

1. Remember where we came from

In Jesus’ parable called “The Pharisee and Tax collector”, the real problem of the Pharisee is that he has forgotten what he used to be. He is so caught up by where he is, or his present state of “righteousness”, that he fails to see that he was once the same as those that he is putting down. What the Pharisee needs is a reminder of life before his holy works, and this is what Lent does for us on Ash Wednesday ever year. As we receive the cross upon our foreheads and hear that we are really dust, we are reminded of where we came from before we knew of Jesus Christ. We were the people that we often despise and sometimes put down in our prayers, and the Lenten season humbles us by bringing up our former selves.

 

2. Remember where we are

Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector’s prayer is short, and he does not mention his good works or how he comes to the Temple of God. Also, the tax collector does not think that he has arrived, and the Lenten season tells us the same as we fast and pray for forty days. Though good works are wonderful and pleasing in the sight of God, they do not mean that we can sit back and think that we are A-OK. In truth, we are still sinners who often fail while following Christ, and there will never be a moment in our earthly lives where we are not in need of grace. Lent reminds us that we are constant recipients of mercy, and in addition to adoration and gratitude our prayers must have confession.

 

 

3. Remember where we are going

At the end of the parable the tax-collector is justified, and despite his constant need of grace the Lord declares him righteous. In other words, sin and death are not the final word for him, and there will come a day when he need not pray for mercy as a sinner. The tax-collector can live with hope for a time where Christ will restore all things, and Lent allows us to share in this hope by pointing us to Easter. Through Lent we are reminded that our struggle with sin and death will cease, for like our fasting it is temporary and will not last forever. Just as this season meets its end with the light of resurrection on Easter morn, our season as sinners will meet its end with the glorious resurrection that is to come.

 

 

For the next forty days I pray that we would remember these things, and I pray that the Spirit would bring them to our minds as we face our temptations while clinging to the Word of God.

Blessed Lent and may the grace and peace of Christ be with you!

Your grateful pastor,

-Scotty J. Williams