THE FIRST DAY OF LENT
March 2, 2022
Psalm 51: 1-18; Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Saint Matthew 6:1-6, 26-2
In nomine Jesu!
Beloved of God:
Each year in Lent, Christ Jesus and Christ’s Church have lofty ambitions for us; expecting us, to use these 40 days and our self-selected Lenten discipline, to change –– more precisely, to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We begin by reminding ourselves of what our untransformed fate must be. We are dust returning to dust, and our life is “a deathward drift from futile birth.” We bear our ashes today because we do not believe that to be the fate or the life our God desires for us.
Yet it is the fate we fear; for the past two years it’s been a fearful fate we can name, Covid, an imminent threat that has shape our lives and our world in more ways than we know or imagine. Fear has shaped everything – our personal lives, our family lives, our corporate lives, as well as our public policy. Fear that we are but dust returning to dust has divided us and wreaked havoc throughout our world.
Therefore, on behalf of Jesus Christ and Christ’s Church, I invite you to enter into a different kind of Lent and engage in a different kind of Lenten discipline; to give up every thought, word, and action that is based on fear; to repent of fear’s motivation in your life and to turn to thoughts, words and deeds based instead on faith. In our current context, this will be difficult. Doing this alone is, and will be, impossible.
Therefore I ask you to do your fasting, or alms giving, and any additional works of service to others with others in the Christian community; to immerse yourself deeply into this community of faith where, in Christ and within a supportive community, God nourishes us with the Christ’s Word and Body and Blood so that faith can replace fear and can blossom with hope and love. Hear the Word, receive the Sacraments, seek community so that the Holy Spirit can transform you, and all that motivates you, from fearfulness to faithfulness. For it is precisely these means that empowers us to we affirm that dust returning to dust is not our fate nor does it motivate our life; that God’s last word to us is life and resurrection. Through these means God transforms our dominating fear into liberating faith: Faith that enables us to live in hope; faith that enables us to act in love.
On behalf of Jesus Christ and Christ’s Church, I invite you into that kind of Lent: A Lent tailored to this new and troubling era; a Lent God will use to renew us so that we, in turn, can transform and renew our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. Beloved of God, as we begin Lent 2022, let us not waste this time: Fast on fear. Feast on faith.
Amandus J. Derr
Interim Senior Pastor