The Pastor's Windshield for February 2024

The season of Lent comes early this year! On Wednesday, February 14, “Ash Wednesday”, we begin the 40-day season of Lent. Here are a few thoughts and reminders for you as we approach the Lenten season this year.

Alleluia On Hold – one small Lenten observance involves pausing the singing of “Alleluia!” until Easter Sunday. This is a little reminder of the more somber nature of the Lenten season. We look forward to praising the Lord with our Alleluias on both Transfiguration Sunday (Feb. 11) and then on Easter Sunday (March 31) and beyond.

Ash Wednesday – On this day, Christians hear the solemn pronouncement that “you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). We receive the imposition of ashes as an ancient symbol of repentance. However, the ashes are applied in the sign of the cross, which also marks us as those redeemed by Christ the crucified. Our 6:30pm Ash Wednesday service will begin with the imposition of ashes. I will also be available in the church sanctuary from Noon-2:00pm on Ash Wednesday for anyone who would like to receive the ashes earlier in the day.

Confession and Absolution – While the whole Christian life is one of repentance, the Lenten season provides a specific opportunity to return to the Lord in repentance and faith. Most of our worship services as Lutheran Christians begin with corporate confession and absolution. However, individual confession and absolution is another opportunity to consider. Participating in individual confession and absolution enables you to confess your sins either generally or specifically and then to hear Christ’s Word of absolution applied directly to you. I’ll be available in the church sanctuary from Noon-2:00pm on Ash Wednesday for any who choose to participate. As a reminder, you can contact me to arrange for individual confession and absolution at other times as well. You can review the rites of individual confession and absolution in Luther’s Small Catechism or in our Lutheran Service Book hymnal in preparation (LSB. P. 292-293).

Midweek Lenten Services – After Ash Wednesday, we’ll have five additional Wednesday Lenten services from Feb. 21 – March 20. We’ll follow a simple order of service on these nights called the Service of Prayer and Preaching. The Gospel readings and sermons will center on the theme “On the Night that He Was Betrayed.” We’ll focus on the Thursday night before Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday. (We often call that day “Maundy” or “Holy Thursday”). The Gospels include several full chapters full of detail on this pivotal night in Jesus’ life. We’ll be focusing most of our attention on the passages in John’s Gospel, especially chapters 13-17. I hope you’ll join us for our Wednesday services!

Fasting – Christians may choose to fast in some way during Lent as a method of denying our sinful flesh and fixing our attention on Jesus. However, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:16-18, fasting is not to be done for show but as a private expression of faith in the Lord. You may choose to give up some form of food, drink, or technology. Alternatively, you may choose to add something like additional time in prayer or personal devotions during Lent. 

As I’ll be sharing in my sermon on Feb. 11, whether you add or subtract anything from your days this Lenten season, the best way to observe Lent is simply by focusing on Jesus and His death and resurrection for you.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Kory Janneke