[The following is a brief devotional written for our local paper that also serves as a bit of an introduction to our Lenten Journey to Hope.]
At the heart of the Christian faith is our participation in the life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ as Lord. We proclaim that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ was born into human history in the fullness of time for our salvation. In time he lived and taught, suffered and was put to death; but God “raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand…and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20, 22-23).
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are delivered from sin and death, and by the Holy Spirit we are born into eternal life with God. This we confess; this we must renew continually in our worship and in our lives. At the very center of our worship and proclamation is the story of God’s whole history with humanity, brought to focus in the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
We believe that the only real hope for humanity and the world in which we live lies in the power of God to forgive and heal us through Jesus Christ. This is the hope we carry with us as we move toward the celebration of Easter. This is the hope that holds us up when we face difficult challenges, broken hearts, and catastrophic illness. This is our only hope – the hope of Jesus Christ. This time we call Lent is really a Journey to Hope…A journey into the arms of the risen Christ.