April 2, 2011
Lessons: Psalm 87, 90, 136, Jeremiah 13:1-11, Romans 6:12-23, John 8:47-59
Psalm 136:1. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
When I was a child my parents farmed in Minnesota, where Lent begins in the darkest coldest part of winter. We belonged to a small Lutheran church located in a very small town. Wednesday evening Lenten services began at 7 pm. Farmers had to do the evening chores, milk the cows, eat supper, get cleaned up, and drive to town to church. Weather and rural road conditions frequently created travel problems. The service was boring to a child. The church was always full and I could not understand why.
My mother had many verses of poetry and scripture committed to memory. One of her favorites, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever” appeared on various plaques, pictures, and embroideries around the house. I think she understood why, in the middle of winter, we gathered at night in observance of Lent.
Looking back 50 years, I see faith and hope and assurance and determination in that rural Minnesota church community. Remembering and renewing their faith together at night in the dead of winter sustained them through the really, really tough times and helped them prepare for the Easter celebration.
Sometimes we need a reminder – especially on cold winter nights – to give thanks that God’s steadfast love does endure forever. Sometimes the radiance of Easter just can’t get here fast enough for us.
Lord Jesus the anointed one, we pray that our Lenten journey may draw us closer to you, so that in giving thanks for your great love, we may be joyful in our redemption and share our hope and assurance by remembering and following your example of great love. Amen.