From: T.M. Schoewe
February! What a month! It’s Black History month. It’s the month where we begin our transition from winter to spring! At least in our mind. It’s a month full of events to drive out the winter blues, starting with a groundhog from Pennsylvania that predicted an early spring this year. By the way, we wonder just what clouds over Punxsutawney Phil’s burrow have to do with the weather in Minnesota. Anyway, then we came to Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was quite a fellow. Then we have a couple of great birthdays, Lincoln and Washington, and maybe yours. And finally comes Ash Wednesday and the entrance into the long season of Lent.
Lent is an old English word that simply means “to lengthen.” We have the glorious Epiphany season in which the Lord walks on water and feeds thousands around the Lake of Galilee; and where he goes down from Mount Carmel and talks about His coming death with a couple of old prophets then goes into the valley where He says “All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. He shall be delivered into the Gentiles (Romans) and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted upon. They shall scourge Him and put Him to death. But on the third day He shall rise again.” And all this took place during one week in April but has been lengthened into the forty days of Lent, ending with a glorious resurrection and climax, “Because He lives we too shall live.”
Now what shall we do during Lent? People have been doing many things! There seems to be an urge to do something, so there arises all sorts of denials, from dieting to refraining from eating sweets or drinking coffee, etc.
And if you lived in the Middle Ages you probably gave up butter and gave the money you saved to the church to help build cathedrals. Do you have any suggestions? Here is one. Just “let Lent!”
It is not what we do as to over what we should let Lent to do us. How can we do that? There are four gospels and forty days of Lent; that’s ten days per story. Devoting ten to fifteen minutes a day will do it! You read books for hours and listen and look at TV for a whole evening or spend hours surfing the Internet; give yourself a few minutes each day to rereading the gospel story. Remember there are four different writers who tell what Christ the Son of the living God came into the world to do.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are quite different characters and write from different points of view. Matthew was a Jew but a tax collector for the Romans and so hated by his fellows. His aim is to convince his fellow Jews that Christ is the fulfillment of their scripture’s prophesies. Mark, who fled naked out of the Garden of Gethsemane during Jesus’ capture by the Sanhedrin, and who had some difficulties with Paul, seems to have Roman citizenship and writes to Gentiles. His gospel is quite military-like, full of “straight forwards.” So many early Christian congregations included many military personnel. He is very short and snappy and his gospel is only 16 chapters long. And Luke was a doctor, so he only tells of the actual birth of our Lord in the manger in Bethlehem and His early visit to the temple for His circumcision. Luke records the Lord’s many miracles that have to do with bodily healings. Luke traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam while Matthew stops with it at David. Then there is John, the old fisherman who goes back further, to the Lord Who in the beginning made all things, and Who became flesh and dwelt among us. Long ago at a burning bush in the desert Moses asked “who are you”? And the answer came back “I am.” John’s gospel is full of “I am”s. Christ saying “I am the light of the world” and “I am the resurrection and the life,” etc.
John finishes his gospel by saying that there are many things Jesus said and did that if written down could not be contained in all the books of the world. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all agree Christ is the Son of the living God who dies for the sins of the world.
So much for the authorship of the four gospels; enjoy reading and meditating on them during these forty days starting on the 22 of this month (Ash Wednesday.) Let Lent do something for you. What will it do? You will be astounded that God loves you! He loves you in spite of any sophistication or lack thereof. He loves you apart from anything you have done or didn’t do; loves you when you are weak or even totally dependent. God loves you not because of anything about you other than the fact that you are and that you have being and bear within you now the image of the ONE that created you and died for you. So let Lent have its way with you. Celebrate as you find the love of God growing in your heart and even loving your neighbor as yourself. May these ramblings be a bit of relief from the many words of politicians filling the airways this election year!
P.S. Growing up in the 1920s we recall an atheist named Robert Ingersoll bouncing around our country discrediting the Bible. One of his criticisms was that the Old Testament speaks of the 4 “corners” of the world. He would point out how that was scientifically incorrect. What he never learned was that the word “corners” was a mistranslation. In the original Hebrew the word is “quarters.” And so, long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and Magellan sailed around the world the Bible reminds us that we live on a globe or world that is round. There are still a few hundred who believe that the earth is flat but Satan, who sowed the seed of DOUBT in God’s Word in the beginning, still has many agents who sow doubt about the truth of the Lenten story. To doubt the story is to lose the great gift that has been given to you. And we hope too, you remember in your hearts to pray for John and Fran Edstrom and all others whom you know are either recovering from illnesses or fighting the battle.