First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
By the time you read this, it will be Easter, and the time of Lent will have come to a close. How did your Lenten fast go?
Did you give something up? Did you miss that afternoon can of soda? Are you spending the day catching up on all the news on facebook or twitter? Do you have a chocolate bar waiting for you when you get home from Easter services?
Or did you pick something up for Lent? Did you keep up with the Lutheran Hour Ministries devotional? Did you pray the Litany daily? Have you finished reading the Gospels or the Small and Large Catechism?
The goal of any of these Lenten disciplines was to help us, in the words of the Lenten Gradual, fix our eyes on Jesus. Do you feel they worked? Was your journey to the cross and the empty tomb aided by either giving up a delicacy or by taking up a new habit? I pray it was.
But of course, Lent is over now. The chocolate and the soda now flow freely through your system, and the prayer books have been put away once more; right?
Sadly, for many that is probably correct. We were more than willing to abstain from things for a time, or to sacrifice a few minutes to prayer, or an evening for worship for Lent, but now that Lent is over, so too is the desire to discipline ourselves. After all, it is Easter now, this is a time to celebrate, right?
It is indeed time to celebrate, but to just walk away from what we have done since mid-February would be missing the goal of that fast and that prayer time to begin with. If all we are going to do is go back to the way things were before, than we may as well have not even done anything during Lent. Just as the world ignores the time of prayer and fasting and repentance, so too should we if there is no lasting impact.
The resurrection changes everything. The dead and buried Jesus is alive forevermore, and we now live in the light of that resurrection glory, not as condemned and fallen sinners, but as redeemed and glorified children of our heavenly Father.
If we have not taken the time of Lent to fix our eyes on Jesus, than when it is time for the joy of the resurrection, we will find ourselves still in the darkness of Lent, still trapped in our sins; Christ is risen, but what does it matter if you still reject His ways and His word?
Did you read the Lutheran Hour Ministries devotional during Lent? Awesome! Now begin another devotional, check out the Treasury of Daily Prayer from CPH. Did you pray the Litany daily? Great! Now keep at it; try to expand your devotions using the Orders for Daily Prayer on p. 294-298 in LSB. Did you come to midweek services? Thank-you! Join us for Bible study now. Did you give up soda or chocolate or social media? Good job! Now that it is Easter, enjoy those treats, but do so in moderation, do not let them regain the control they once had over your life.
Lent is about training yourself, about preparing yourself; about fixing your eyes on Jesus so that you are not distracted by the things of this world. Now that it is Easter, do not forget your training, do not forsake the disciplines you have picked up. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus, fix your eyes on the empty cross and tomb; fix your eyes on the forgiveness that He has won for you.
Easter is 50 days, start a new discipline – read a Psalm a day, memorize a hymn a week, read through the Epistles of Paul, set aside money for missions, take this time and continue to fix your eyes on Jesus.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt