Dear Friends in Christ:
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 15.
Change is the order of the day for the forty days of Lent, because repentance is the order of the day for the forty days of Lent. In Lent we say, “I value my relationship with God more than I value that whole set of dysfunctional behaviors and attitudes I have come to call normal.”
What is the cost of change? I can recognize the need for change—and choose not to change. I can recognize the need for change—and avoid other people who see that need in me. I can recognize the need for change—and decide that someone else is responsible for paying the cost. I can recognize the need for change—and distract myself with thousands of entertainments and diversions. I can recognize the need for change—and feel so overwhelmed that I fall into despair. I can recognize the need for change—and seek out a new group that approves of my old ways.
Change involves discomfort. Change involves disruption. Change involves sacrifice. Change hurts.
Here are some of the lies people tell during Lent: “I don’t really have to change, I just have to be willing to change.” “God has a lot bigger things to worry about than my getting my spiritual house in order.” “If I choose something arbitrary and meaningless to change, rather than what is really screwing up my soul and my life, that is just as good.” “If God really loved me, He would let me be and have what I want.”
Give up eating on three days of the week. Stop watching television and surfing the web. Quit smoking. Abstain from all drugs and alcohol. Stop all lie-telling. Stop wasting the time God gives you every day. Walk around your neighborhood in the evenings and introduce yourself at every home. Make three phone calls a day to relatives and friends you haven’t heard from. Read the New Testament. Pray five times a day. Go to church even when you have other options. Tithe.
The Scriptural point of reference for Lent is our Lord’s journey to Jerusalem and the Cross. Change—the redemption of the human race in this case—costs. Whatever your contribution to the cost of change that will allow the Holy Spirit to renew your relationship with God, it is a marginal cost. The overwhelming bulk of the cost was paid by the one who paid a debt he did not owe for us who have a debt we cannot pay.
Yours in Christ,
John Shepherd McKenzie
of Stewart Manor
St. James Lutheran Church of Stewart Manor | 116 Elton Road, Stewart Manor, NY 11530 | 516-352-4099
St. James Lutheran Church