A Word from Pastor Stefan
This Is So Good
(A time of spiritual renewal)
This is so good when brothers and sisters are coming together each week to eat a meal and share what happened during the day – the good things and not so good things. This is so good when we worship together and hear inspirational stories about faith and God in our daily lives and when we sing together and see the youth being a part of this time of worship. Then, following the service, we can attend a group to go more in depth about our faith. Lent is a spiritual journey that will begin this year on February 14 with Ash Wednesday.
Yes, this year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are the same day. Interesting! Scripture teaches us that there is a God who is deeply in love with us, and Lent is a spiritual journey that invites us to become closer to this God who sends his Son into this world to show us his sacrificial and unconditional love.
The Lenten season is not something we find in the Bible or something Jesus said we should do. It started in the 4th century as a time of spiritual renewal to prepare for the miracle of Easter, our Lord’s resurrection. It was a time of penance, confession, and staying away from sin. Over the years, these spiritual practices took on some intense forms, including fasting, increased time of prayers, and doing more acts of love such as feeding the hungry and helping people in need.
These spiritual practices continue to evolve. Their purpose: to renew our faith in a God who is jealous and deeply in love with us. Lent is a time to refocus, to become aware of what really matters in life, and to discover how much our God is leading and guiding us to be in close relationship with each other.
When we go on a journey, we leave things behind and follow directions to a destination. During our Christmas break while visiting our kids’ grandparents, we met Grandpa Jim’s cousin Larry. Larry also lives in Charleston, SC, and he shared with us about a journey he took before he got married. He and a friend rode cross country on bicycles from the West Coast to the East Coast. Each day he wrote a post card about his experiences to his fiancé, Audrey. Later in life, the many postcards and pictures he took were put into a book. I read the whole book with great interest.
It was fascinating what he and his friend endured and experienced on this long trip. They encountered storms, extreme heat, and physical and technical challenges. They also met wonderful people who provided shelter, food, and good company. It was a trip of a lifetime. At the end of his book, he wrote this to Audrey: “I learned that the majority of the American people are good and want to help. We have more in common than we have differences. I had a great experience that restored my faith in the American people, and I cannot wait to get home to marry you.”
When reading this book and looking at the awesome pictures, I felt like going on a trip like this, too. However, I would prefer my motorcycle instead of my bicycle. We all have dreams.
Going on a journey takes preparation. As we embark on our Lenten journey, here are my spiritual discipline suggestions for you:
- Every day, read a short devotion or one chapter in a Gospel (for example Mark). After reading, ask yourself what did you learn about God? What did you learn about people? What did you learn about relating to God?
- Pray each day for at least ten minutes: praise God and share your gratitude; pray for your needs and the needs of others.
- Attend weekly Lenten dinners and services.
- Participate in serving others: help during Lenten dinners, participate in a spiritual study group, volunteer for PADS, etc.
This is so good that, together, we have the opportunity to grow in our faith and serve others to prepare for God’s great miracle of Easter and new life. I hope you all join us, so we can share this experience with each other … and please invite others to join us as well.
Blessings to you all,