Pastor David Nehrenz
Dear Members of the Body of Christ,
The first Sunday this month, March 3, is Transfiguration Sunday – the climax of the Epiphany season. As Luke the evangelist, doctor and associate of Paul writes, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” (Luke 9:28-36).
Then we come back down from the mountain on March 6 for Ash Wednesday. Daniel the prophet and man of God writes, “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.’” (Daniel 9:3-5)
Next, on the First Sunday in Lent, March 10, we go out into the wilderness with Jesus. He is the Second Adam who overcomes the devil’s temptations on our behalf, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1-13)
During March and the first part of April, we are in the 40 days of Lent. This is a time for prayer, fasting and repentance over our many sins, which includes the sin of taking God’s gifts for granted. Instead, do not neglect attending the Divine Service. Be present among the saints. Come receive God’s gifts in Jesus Christ of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. This is good news! Offer your body as a living sacrifice to God, holy and pleasing in His sight. Be with us for all of our Lenten services. Our Heavenly Father has told us to listen to His Son. May we all do this and come before the Lord with a joyous and dedicated faith!
In our Lord Jesus Christ – the Suffering Servant.
Pastor David Nehrenz
Vicar David Keating
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for
you shall laugh.”
How fitting that Luke’s account of the beatitudes should come just a few weeks before we step into the season of Lent. Luke reminds his readers that, central to Jesus’ ministry, are the ways in which he overcomes the physical sufferings of this life. Jesus has faced temptation and starvation in the desert while overcoming Satan and his lies. Jesus will be the one who weeps over his friend Lazarus, and he will weep once again in the Garden before His crucifixion. Jesus is the one who is meek, even as He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, as a king coming in peacetime, rather than on a mighty horse.
The Lenten season will soon be upon us. While it certainly is not mandatory, sometimes we either give something up for Lent, or we look to serve our Church and community in a new way during this time. The idea of having a “Lenten fast” is meant to remind us that even as we deny ourselves and “suffer” in a small way, we are still being filled with much greater things from our Savior. Even as it might be difficult to give up sweets, caffeine, or other enjoyments and luxuries, we are reminded of the fact that Jesus has overcome all the physical sufferings that we experience, in ways both large and small.
Have a blessed Lenten season!
Vicar David Keating