Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Calvary Lutheran Church,
It’s hard to believe, but Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is only a few weeks away, February 17th. It seems like yesterday that we took down the Christmas decorations in the sanctuary and at home, and here we are getting ready to impose ashes in the sign of the cross on our foreheads. After the joyous Christmas hymns and carols we will be returning to music of a more solemn nature, reflecting the theme of the weeks leading up to Passion Week and Easter. In some ways Lent seems to be the opposite of the Christmas season, but there are several things that are similar.
We prepared for Christmas with the season of Advent, when we prepared a way for the Lord in our hearts by repentance. We looked at the fallen state of our world and the need for the Savior promised to our first parents, Adam and Eve. We listened to the prophet Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, and John the Baptist as they called us to repent and look for the Messiah who is to come. We celebrated the first coming of the Son of God in Bethlehem, and we looked forward to the second coming when He will return in glory to raise the dead, and reunite their souls with their bodies to eternal life for those who have died in the faith.
Lent is also a time of preparation and reflection. We look forward to our redemption from sin through Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary, but we also see the price that Our Lord paid to free us, His suffering and death. We learn to see sin the way God sees it, as the breach between His beloved children and Himself, a breach that is so serious that only His Son’s death can heal it.
The season of Lent is solemn and somber, but it is not without hope. In fact, without hope, it would be unbearable. But there is hope. There is the promise of Jesus that He told His disciples over and over. “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. “(Mark 8:31 ESV) The hope is that just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too will be raised with Him to eternal life. And this hope is different than ordinary hope, as when we say, “I hope that gas prices stay down.”, or “I hope that my favorite team wins the game.” That kind of hope is a wish, a desire, but not a certainty. Our hope is a certainty through faith in the promises of God that He never breaks. God promises that all who believe in His Son, who died for our sins, should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16). He confirmed that HIs Son’s sacrifice for our sins was acceptable by raising Him from the dead on Easter. God has promised us that He will raise us too who have been joined by faith to His Son in Baptism. Our hope is not simply wishful thinking, but based on the most certain, the most real thing in the world, the Word of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ.
The Lenten season that is about to begin will be a time of of repentance but also a time of thankfulness, that this fallen world, with its wars, crime, sickness, and death has an end. Just as sure as Epiphany follows Christmas, and Lent follows Epiphany— Easter follows Good Friday. Several of our brothers and sisters at Calvary are facing struggles, bearing crosses, seeing the effect of sin on a fallen world in the ravages of disease in their lives, and in the lives and the deaths of their loved ones. We crave some good news, some hope. And thanks be to God, we have it, in the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, healing of body and soul, and eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord! We have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, because after the cross came Easter. Every Sunday is a confirmation of this Easter message of joy amid pain, love amid hate, beauty amid ugliness, hope amid despair.
This year during Lent we will have the opportunity to hear this Gospel on Wednesdays, beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 17th. We will have a Lent service every Wednesday until Passion Week. Since the Lent season is long this year, I would like to ask you if you would like to alternate a Wednesday evening service one week with a daytime service the following week.
May God bless you always, especially during the upcoming weeks of Lent, that you may look in hope to His word of promise, as we gather together on Sundays and Wednesdays to worship, hear His Word and receive His Supper, and as we study His Word in Bible class, Sunday School, and confirmation class.
Blessings In Christ,
“Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful” (Luke 6:36). The word for mercy that Jesus uses here has a more concrete meaning than what we typically associate with mercy. It means more than just being kind. It means to be concerned about your neighbor’s state and well-being. Thus, Jesus taught that we are to care, to be concerned about our neighbor’s state and well-being even as our Father in heaven cares for and is concerned about our state and well-being.
How has our Father in heaven cared for our state? How has He shown His concern for our well-being? How has He showered this mercy upon us?
He gave of Himself. He sent His only-begotten Son in human flesh, to become one of us—a man—and to suffer all that we suffer and to endure what we endure—a fallen world full of sinful people, temptation, the attacks of the devil, and death. He took upon Himself what rightfully belongs to us—sin and death—in order that He could give to us what rightfully belongs to Him—righteousness, purity, eternal life, and victory over the temptation of Satan and this fallen world. That is how He cared for our state. That is how He was concerned for our well-being. He entered into our state for the sake of our well-being, died in our place, rose for our justification, redeemed us to make all things new. He entered our state so that by water and His Word we would be granted entrance into His state as children of our Father in heaven. In other words, He had empathy toward us, which resulted in true sympathy.
Jesus, therefore, calls the church to empathy and sympathy for her neighbors. “Be merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful.” He asks the church to give of herself, to enter into her neighbors’ state for their well-being. And the church gives of herself the only thing in her that is worth giving. As the Body of Christ, she gives Christ to her neighbors. She gives out the same mercy that she has received. She gives the mercy that the heavenly Father poured out upon her through the sending of His Son. And she does it through the preaching of the forgiveness of sins in Word and Deed, in Word and Sacrament. For this is how the church lives—in the forgiveness of sins received in the means of grace—and, therefore, this is what the church does. What else can she do?
And since this is how the church lives and what the church does, this is likewise how Christians live and what Christians do. That is why giving to the church is so important. It ensures that the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins in Word and Deed continues. It ensures that our neighbors’ state and well-being is cared for and attended to. It ensures that our neighbors have access to our heavenly Father’s mercy just as we have received it here in time for all eternity.
Therefore, I say, let us be merciful even as our Father in heaven is merciful.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ….
Clinton Hubbard February 13
Joan Loughmiller February 19
Frances Meyers February 22
Jerry Loughmiller February 28
Cara Mader February 28
Jerry and Sharon Zoglmann February 6
February 1: Quinn McCue
February 8: Jace Lawrence
February 15: Karlie Biehler
February 22: Cheyenne Cooper
“As God’s family in Christ, Calvary Lutheran Church is committed
to sharing God’s Word, Christ’s love, and our faith.”
“Boring? Not Likely!”
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour: Rev. Ken Klaus
Jesus’ enemies considered Him too dangerous to let live, but we have wrapped the
Savior in a cloak of dullness.
“The Gospel’s Power for Gracious Living”
Lutheran Hour Speaker: Rev. Gregory Seltz
Christ empowers His followers to live lives that encourage, affirm, and serve others.
(1 Corinthians 9:18-23)
“Searching for Love – Listen to Jesus”
Lutheran Hour Speaker: Rev. Gregory Seltz
Jesus is God’s love in action for you. Listen to Him!
“Regrets, Reality, and Grace-filled Restoration”
Lutheran Hour Speaker: Rev. Gregory Seltz
Through Christ’s forgiveness, regrets give way to restoration.
The Lutheran Hour Ark City KSOK 1280 AM Sunday 8:00 AM
The Lutheran Hour Ark City KSOK 95.9 FM Sunday 10:30 AM
The Lutheran Hour Wichita KFTI 1070 AM Sunday 8:35 AM
LUTHERAN HOUR SCHEDULE
February 18-Ash Wednesday
March 4, 11, 18, and 25
The Symbolism of Ashes
What is Lent?
What is Lent?
It is forty days of stripping down to the living essentials; It is forty days of facing truth about one’s self-indulgent evasions; It is forty days of fellowshipping with Christ in the desert; It is forty days of rejoicing in God’s mercy and forgiveness.
REFOCUS FOR LENT
Give up complaining – focus on gratitude.
Give up harsh judgments – think kind thoughts
Give up worry – trust God to provide.
Give up discouragement – be full of hope.
Give up bitterness – turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred – return good for evil.
Give up anger – be more patient.
Give up pettiness – become mature.
Give up jealously – pray for trust.
Give up gossiping – control your tongue.
Give up sin – turn to virtue.
Give up giving up – persevere.
– Author unknown
On the first day of Lent, pastors in many churches dip a finger in ashes (often made by burning palm branches from the previous year‘s Palm Sunday) and make a cross on parishioners’ foreheads. Many Christians keep the symbol on their head for the entire day. It is a reminder that from dust we were created, and on account of sin to dust we will return. It is a sign of humility and the need for forgiveness. Also, the cross on the forehead reminds us of the death of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. God‘s people have used ashes as a sign of mourning, humiliation and penitence. In the Old Testament, ashes were used as a purification offering. The New Testament speaks of repenting in ―sackcloth and ashes‖ (Luke 10:13, NRSV). On Ash Wednesday, Christians are pained because our sins — private and public — led to Jesus‘ death. With repentant hearts, we begin the season of Lent, knowing it leads to resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The LWML (Lutheran Women’s Missionary League) will have a meeting on Wednesday, February 4th at 7pm in the parish hall. All ladies of the congregation (and their friends, too) are enthusiastically invited to join in this time of fellowship, devotion, and