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Grace Lutheran Church
Pastors' Letters
“What are you giving up for Lent?” What a very socially polite question. What a socially polite and acceptable thing to do. Should we have a bad habit or we are doing something that isn’t good for us, we can give it up for forty days. Say we give up sugar for 40 days and then on Easter we can pig out on a whole basketful that the Easter Bunny left just for us! Is that really what God wants us to do? Torture ourselves for 40 days and celebrate by going back to our old habits?
 In Isaiah 58:1–12, God reminds us that outward observance is no substitute for genuine fasting (sincere repentance that turns back to God and living as God created us to live) that results in acts of justice, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and clothing the naked. And sincere repentance will lead to a dramatic improvement of our own life, Isaiah 38:11-12
 11The LORD will guide you continually,
            and satisfy your needs in parched places,
            and make your bones strong;
            and you shall be like a watered garden,
            like a spring of water,
            whose waters never fail.
  12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
            you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
            you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
            the restorer of streets to live in.
 God’s reconciling activity in the death of Christ reaches into the depths of our lives to bring us into a right relationship with God. In this way, God accepts us into the reality of divine salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
20bWe entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.  2For he says,
            "At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
            and on a day of salvation I have helped you."
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 
Lent is an opportunity for us to change, to turn back to God and the person God created us to be. Let fasting be a return to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Let prayer be a return to God’s presence or a celebration of it. And let almsgiving be the service of a blessed and grateful heart. By the grace of God shown to us in Jesus the Christ and spoken to us by the companions that God has given to journey with us we can make healthier food choices, eating habits, exercise more regularly, sleep better, be more regular in our devotions, listen more quietly for God’s voice, keep Sabbath, see more clearly the needs of our neighbors and respond more lovingly to those needs. 
Sound too comprehensive, too overwhelming? We are told to break change down to little steps so we can see change and have success. So make the fast, pray the prayer, give the alms, that you are able. But do something that will grow you more closely to Jesus and the Child God created you to be.
Remember, always, your Baptism when we fall short (even fail) we are forgiven. Each day (or minute of the day, if need be) a fresh start, washed clean, to begin again. One day at a time choosing to be the Child of God, we were created to be. And at the end of the forty days, as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord (Easter) to look back on our Lenten Journey and see where we have come and celebrate that we have grown. But resolve that that which we have done successfully for 40 days not be undone, but rather that we can continue to live in this way for the 60 days of Easter!  One day, one minute at a time in the presence of God.
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 

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