Here’s A Thought for Feb. 9

Why Lent?

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:12-15)

Ash Wednesday the official beginning of Lententide begins this coming Wednesday. For many Christians it’s a time of repentance, prayer, and spiritual renewal. The question that is often asked at this time is: “What will you give up (fasting) for Lent?” The reply’s range from chocolates, watching sports, going fishing, to drinking coffee.

My childhood Lenten memories range from going to fish and chips restaurants, fish fries in churches, crosses draped in purple, ashes on people’s foreheads, special midweek Lenten Vespers, and eating hot cross buns. The hymns we sung were somber and focused on the suffering, sacrifices and Passion of Christ Jesus as he made his journey toward Calvary’s cross.

With these thoughts in mind maybe we should asked ourselves in relationship to our Lenten observance and journey? Ask NOT what I can do during Lent; but what God in the person of Christ Jesus has done for me? The psalm writer asks the question: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” In other words, let’s reflect and focus on all our Savior God (all his benefits) what he has done for us. The Apostle Peter tells us: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)

The Lenten Gospel lessons reveal what Jesus did for us. Lent I — Jesus overcame the temptations of Satan for us. Lent II — Jesus is our Messiah/Savior, the Son of the Living God. Lent III — Jesus is the Living Water for our thirst souls. Lent IV — Jesus is our Healer of spiritual blindness and opens our eyes to His gifts forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Lent V — Jesus is our Resurrection and Life, therefore we don’t fear death.

These Gospel lessons reveal to us a portion of all of God’s benefits given to us not only during Lententide but for our entire earthly and eternal lives. Thus, receiving all these spiritual benefits, how do we respond? “I will take the cup of salvation (Communion) and call upon the name of the Lord (prayer) I will pay my vows (make Lenten promises) unto the Lord in the presence of all his people (divine worship services).

During past Lententide seasons, as a certified clinical chaplain I ministered to people, who would say to me “I don’t do Lent.” Listening to them revealed that for them the season of Lent was only a list of religious duties of do’s or don’ts. Some of patients would confess their faith in Christ Jesus and asked if I “did” Lent. I responded “yes” because Lent offered me a special time to reflect and focus on the Cross of Christ Crucified and prepared me to celebrate the spiritual joys of Christ’s Resurrection — Eastertide!

As we begin our 2018 Lenten observance may we continue to: “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, till all the world, adores His sacred name. Come Christians. follow where our Savior trod, the Lamb victorious, Christ, the Son of God.” Amen.

Chopp is a chaplain emeritus, MDiv, BCC, from Marshall

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