March 6, 2019
Season of Lent
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – Collect for Ash Wednesday
A Lenten Message
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues through to the Saturday before Easter. This year it starts today Wednesday, March 6 and ends on Saturday, April 20 excluding Sundays.
Lent is meant to be a season of spiritual awakening and joy when you allow the Lord to cleanse and renew your life as you prepare to celebrate the Paschal mystery – the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who has loved us with love beyond measure.
How can Lent be a season of spiritual awakening and joy for us?
First, we experience spiritual awakening by looking into our lives and repenting of our sin of unbelief in Christ as Savior and Lord as well as ingratitude, pride, envy, manipulation, bitterness, unforgiveness, lying and gossip among other sins.
Repentance involves telling the Lord that you are sorry for offending Him, asking for His forgiveness and from those you have maligned and offended; and avoiding the things that lead you to sin. The traditional practice of avoiding chocolate and meat during Lent is no help in dealing with the sins in our lives unless you are a glutton when you see those kinds of foods.
How do you truly turn from sin? In our world today people try by telling God that they will NEVER ever commit this sin or that sin again. It’s a nice thought but the effort will soon be frustrated because you cannot do what you’ve promised by your own strength.
Effective turning from sin comes from the empowering and enabling grace of God which we receive by trusting Christ, by immersing ourselves in prayer, by the study of and willing obedience to God’s Word, and worship and praise of our glorious Lord and King. Instead of promising God you won’t commit those besetting sins, ask God to change your heart and mind, give you strength to not commit them as you engage in the means of grace noted above. You must depend on the grace and power of God to deal with sin in your life, not only on your will power.
Second, we experience spiritual awakening by reminding ourselves as we are imposed with the ashes that sin leads to death and that it is through the sacrifice of Christ who died on our behalf that we can be set free from spiritual and eternal death through penitent faith in Christ alone.
Third, we experience spiritual awakening by trusting in the promises of God and expressing that trust through praise, thanksgiving because God never fails.
As you turn from sin, and do battle with sin through the means of grace, trust in Christ to save and help you overcome sin through His cross and the power of the Holy Spirit; stand on His promises with faith and thanksgiving and you will experience spiritual renewal and joyful awakening during Lent and afterwards.
I wish you a blessed and holy Lent.
The Rt. Rev’d Dr. Felix Orji, OSB
Bishop | Anglican Diocese of the West