Pastor's Page

March 2023

From Pastor Girardin...

What are you fasting for Lent this year? I get asked this question each year, and it generally results in wonderful conversations being had that consider what the Lenten fast should be like. I do practice the Lenten fast annually, and at the writing of this article, the Lord has not made it clear what I should fast... and that's a little scary because Ash Wednesday is just around the corner. What I would like to do this month is consider what the fast is for in generally, but also ways that maybe you could sharpen your focus on Christ as we walk through the Lenten season. Let's handle these in reverse.

Historically, during the season of Lent, fasting, acts of penance, and more attendance in worship has been the rule of the day. For us living in the New Testament era of the church, our acts of penance are an odd thing- especially for us in the Lutheran Church. We hold to the line of the early church that just didn't really do this. Acts of penance came into the church for many reasons, not the least of which was bad theology. If you do x,y,z activity you will have made God happy. While the activity may have made God happy, it was not because of the work of the believer. It was because of His Holy Spirit at work in the believer. Left to ourselves we just can't manage this feat. Yet, during the Lenten season, the act of penance may be able to have new life breathed into it. As you live your life, what would happen if every day, on purpose, you helped one person who was downtrodden. What if you intentionally showed the love of God to those around you somehow. As you're doing it, don't reflect on God's anger toward you, but reflect on the cross. Consider what Jesus has done for you. The greatest hug mankind ever received was given by two arms that could not close around us... because they were held in place by nails. Consider how Jesus has reached out to you in your most difficult times. Call it an act of penance, act of faith, whatever. It brings focus to the work of Jesus Christ we contemplate during Lent.

Then there are more worshipful options. These are fascinating. Normally, I do the 40 Days Project with my students in the day school. In this project, they either come up with a fast, an act of penance, or a worship option for them. I had a little girl, one year, that intentionally set aside 10 minutes a night to pray. She prayed every night and kept a log about what she had prayed about, who she had prayed for, how she was feeling, and whatever else she may have wanted to do. Between Easter and her first day back in religion she had stopped doing this. When I asked how she felt, to this day I will remember the look in her eyes when she said, Pastor, when this wasn't an assignment, I stopped doing this. I miss my time with Jesus every night. There was a sadness in her eyes at the loss she had experienced. That little girl is a testimony of faith to how we are to live. She said that she returned to praying every night, just to be with Jesus. You don't have to do anything incredible. What would happen if you set aside 15 minutes every day? Read through the Bible (pick your favorite book - the Psalms are a great place to start for this), and then just pray. Keep track of what you pray for. Expect to see answers as God work on behalf of His children.

Then there's fasting. We fast for all manner of reasons. In the Old Testament, fasting was a symbol of mourning. You might fast as you mourned asking God for comfort. When I received a call this past year, I fasted seeking God's will for a short time (I accepted the call). Fasting can be a potent part of the life of the believer, but during the season of Lent, perhaps it is a little more so. Fasting in Lent brings a sharpness of focus to the discomfort, pain, and loss that Jesus endured. The fast doesn't have to be food either. A couple years ago, I fasted my beard and daily contemplated how Jesus had his beard pulled out... while I shaved mine.

So, what are you fasting? Just keep in mind our works don't matter for much, and the fast is meant to point you to the one who did it all. If you read all this and say, Pastor Phil, fasting and all that other stuff isn't for me; I live in Easter. Praise God for you. That is absolutely wonderful. If you chose to fast, remember that whatever you do should be done quietly, looking to Jesus, and broken with joy on Easter morning - when Jesus rose and opened to us the gate of everlasting life.

Blessings to each of you as we walk through the season of Lent together,

Pastor Phil

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by Rev. Phillip Girardin
by Rev. Phillip Girardin
by Rev. Phillip Girardin
The Twelve Days of Christmas
by Rev. William Gleason