A Time for Repentance

The Beginning of Lent

Today marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day observance (not counting Sundays) that starts on Ash Wednesday, when our foreheads are marked with ashes as a sign of mortality and penitence. The Lenten season provides a time for examining our relationship with God. It’s a time for confession of sins and acknowledgement of vulnerabilities, a time for purging the old and preparing for something new, a time to ponder death and resurrection. Lent gives us space to make an inventory of lessons learned and discoveries that still lie ahead. It gives us permission to reflect on the fragility of our existence. In this season for discernment, meditation, and prayer, we remember that we came from dust, and to dust we will return. In the remembering, there is resurrection, healing and hope.

Spiritual Unity in the Body of Christ

In this time of social distancing many people are wondering about the impact of all this on their life in the church. They’re concerned that they will no longer have a place of sanctuary to go to, a place of peace, a place of fellowship. Some are concerned that if they miss church, they will be missing out on an opportunity to experience the Kingdom of God. To those people, I say, let’s look at this thing with
fresh eyes.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told his disciples that the Kingdom of God is among us (Luke 17:21). It resides in the hearts and souls and minds of each and every believer. The Apostle Paul referred to the church as the body of Christ. He told the church in Ephesus that we are all one in the Spirit. One body. One spirit. One faith. One Lord. One baptism. One God the Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all and all (Ephesians 4:3). In other words, God is everywhere. And God is  with you. And God is in you, even now as you shelter in place.

So while we are not able to worship in a brick-and-mortar building because we are ordered to maintain our social distancing, there will be no spiritual distancing among us. The church is still vibrant. Today, we come together to touch and agree, spirit to spirit.

Faith in the Stillness

Psalm 46:10 says, “be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” This scripture is so applicable to our present situation.

It has not escaped my attention that this year the Lenten season coincides with the COVID-19 outbreak. Both occasions call for prayer and sacrifice. During this pandemic and even throughout the Lenten season, we’ve had to strip down to the bare bones and take a no nonsense approach to life.

Through it all, we’ve learned to embrace new ways and new things that keep us safe and help us to survive. We’ve had to be still, relying on our faith to sustain us. And we’ve had to wait.

We don’t know how long it will take for this pandemic to run its course. But we have a certain confidence that God is on our side.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God speaks through the prophet: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God loves us and has our best interest at heart. Believers make no one mistake about this. So, we stand on God’s word today. We continue to trust God‘s eternal plan. And we acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

Let’s continue to come together in a virtual environment to support one another. In doing so, we will help each other endure until we get to the other side of this pandemic. While we shelter in place, we will be still and affirm that God is in control.