Message for Lent 2024

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Message for Lent 2024

"Let me hear joy and gladness;
  let the bones that you have broken rejoice."

(Psalm 51:8 ESV)

"Ev’ry wound that pains or grieves me
  By Your wounds, Lord, is made whole;
When I’m faint, Your cross revives me,
  Granting new life to my soul.
Yes, Your comfort renders sweet
Ev’ry bitter cup I meet;
  For Your all-atoning passion
  Has procured my soul’s salvation."

(Johann Heermann, Lutheran Service Book 421:4)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

As the days lengthen, the Lord reminds us that Lent is a time for growth. That growth often happens in the midst of brokenness. Sometimes, that brokenness is in our physical bodies. Other times, the brokenness is in our relationships. Still other times, it is brokenness of our hearts and our wills that prevents us from moving forward.

This is the kind of brokenness experienced by the Psalmist David that would lead eventually to revitalization and growth. Nathan’s prophetic words crushed him and showed him his many sins so that, with a new heart and full of the Lord’s Spirit, David could rejoice again.

Revitalization through brokenness marks our identity as Christ’s people. Even as we hear the Ash Wednesday words, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we are reminded of the frailty and brokenness of our own lives, how vulnerable we are to pain, how susceptible we are to deceit, how fainthearted we become in the midst of challenges. It is in this brokenness that our Lord brings growth.

Although not a bone in His body was broken on the cross, his blood broke forth from His crucified body, flowing into a chalice for us to drink so that we may experience how “by His wounds we are healed.” The same Christ who died for our sins on the cross also rose from the dead so that those who are brokenhearted may have their wounds bound with the healing balm of Christ’s Holy Word as we “hear joy and gladness” with the words of Holy Absolution: “Your sins are forgiven.”

Lent, then, is not an opportunity to run away from our brokenness. It is not a time to pretend that the many casts we wear to immobilize our physical and mental broken bones can heal us on our own. We need to hear joy and gladness. We need to hear the voice of Jesus. That is the only way our broken bones may rejoice. Unlike the faddish and deceitful lies that tempt us to believe that we can outsmart, outwit, outrun, out exercise, out diet, and out organize death, Lent’s raw reality that is underscored by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving shows us that there is no escape from this life and its brokenness on our own. Only Christ can purge us so that we may be pure and wash us so that we may be restored.

Our society that discards values, ethics, families, babies, the elderly, single people, deformations, teaching, morality, and anything that challenges our self-decided status quo would benefit from people who have been engaged by the Lord during a period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Instead of avoiding brokenness and pretending that vulnerability ought to be denied, these days leading to the Paschal feast help us to “keep it real” as we are grounded in the Word of the Lord and trusting His promises as we look to the day when Christ returns to make all things new. In the meanwhile, though, even our broken bones may rejoice as we hear of His forgiving joy and absolving gladness. We are baptized and not discarded, loved and not neglected, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying in our bodies the death of Christ so that the life of Christ may be made known in our mortal bodies.

Broken bones can rejoice. Broken people can, too. The days are lengthening so that even now we may continue “Making Disciples for Life” by “Engaging the World with the Gospel of Hope” as we hear joy and gladness in Christ. Let us listen to Him together this Lent and always as revitalization and growth are being made known among us.

I am praying for you. Our gracious Lord bless and keep you always.

Peace and love in Christ Jesus,

Bishop Taylor

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