The Lenten journey
What is the law (a Biblical definition)? The law is the Ten Commandments and anything else where God’s word tells us what to do or not to do. Yet there is more. The law tells us that we are sinners by nature, guilty of disobedience to God and worthy of God’s judgment. The law reminds us we have sinned and fallen short of the glory. In short, the law is our dark cloud. In contrast, the Gospel (the saving Word and work of Jesus) is our silver lining.
Perhaps the two greatest law statements in all of Scripture come from Genesis and Romans. “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die,” Gen 2:17. “For the wages of sin is death…”Rom 6:23. A rather dark introduction to this month’s article, no doubt; yet this was our condition before the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ.
This week the Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday, which with these Scripture passages set the tone for a somber season of reflection over our mortality and the incredible cost Jesus paid to redeem us from our sins. We begin with ashes upon our foreheads as a reminder of our origin and our humility before God. We remove liturgy and songs that contain the expression “Alleluia” from Sunday worship, thus muting our joy until Easter, and we begin the march to the cross, following our Lord Jesus, our suffering servant.
God could not change His mind where His own Law was concerned. Adam and Eve were deceived and ate the fruit forbidden and sin entered our equation, yet the law still stands, someone must die. Yet God took our dilemma upon Himself, and chose His own Son to pay that price under the law. He who had no sin became sin for us, and sacrificed Himself for the sins of many.
After 2000 years, or after our own lifetime of Christian faith, we may become complacent regarding the sacrifice Jesus made so that we may live, and so Lent serves as a six week reminder, a refresher of the magnitude of God’s love and Jesus’ pain endured. We as Christians now refocus, and put the “awe” back that becomes lost when not in a Christian holiday period. We ask ourselves, “Who else has died for us so that we may live? Who else bore our sins when we were enemies of God to call us home to God? Who else shows that kind of love?”
We humble ourselves and in meditation reflect on the humble death Jesus died, looking forward to Easter Sunday when we again celebrate the Gospel, the good news, the silver lining, the resurrection of our Lord that defeated sin, death and the devil, and promises us life eternal. But only in remembering the sin that brought us to death, can we be directed toward the Savior who brings us life. So we begin with ash, walk with our Lord to the cross, and prepare to witness the empty tomb on Easter morning. Let the Lenten journey begin.
For more information about our churches and the Lenten celebration, contact us: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda, (532-4342) or Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).
Rev. William Novack is the pastor ar St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia.