It was my turn to submit an article to the local newspaper for the Minister’s section. This is what they received. The Bible used was the New Revised Standard Version.
Matthew 4:1-2 “Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.” These verses open up the story of how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. It is gospel lesson used at the beginning of Lent. Many Christian Churches follow the practice of some form of fasting during the 40 days of Lent, others as our church does, emphasize spending time in prayer or meditation to contemplate the life of Jesus. We also encourage members to action showing the love of Jesus for others whether they be fellow believers of those outside of the faith community. Whatever the action or the practice, the emphasis should be on truth and sincerity. Growing up as a member of a Yoked Parish (Lutheran, Methodist and UCC) I never associated famished with Lent. Our evening services were rotated between the three churches, but wherever we met, it was always followed by food and fellowship and a freewill offering that assisted our Youth Group. I soon learned to love that time as one of fellowship with people of all ages and members from each of the churches. In fact for me the lines of our differences soon began to blur; a fact that also help true for my children when they took part in the ecumenical Vacation Bible School events. I don’t remember, though, how we held Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday Services, except that they were such somber events. Even yet today, I struggle to attend let alone lead those services because of the quiet and dark mood they need to have. I much prefer the joy and halleluiah of Easter Services, I especially remember the fun we had as youth in the Sunrise Services when we all brought our band instruments and accompanied the hymns in place of the organ. Most of us in that youth group were from the brass sections, and it made for a great sound in the church. As much as I prefer the joy and happiness of Easter, I need to remind myself that it doesn’t happen without Good Friday, and that doesn’t happen without the betrayal of Maundy Thursday. Even in our personal lives, we need to remember that sometimes there are dark somber days, but when we lean on God with sincere faith, we can come through to better days. The other part of that is to do that leaning in the fellowship of other believers. All loads are lighter when two or more do the lifting. I challenge us all to reach out to others today whether it be in help or in need.