Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

 
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Pastor's Reflections

A few years ago I wrote about how March might be my least favorite month. While I’ve never minded winter, by March I’m ready for it to be over, ready for spring, but, especially in the UP, winter is likely to persist for a while. As I write this though, with the relatively small amount of snow we’ve had there’s at least the hope for an early spring as there is less snow to melt. March though, will likely have something to say about that.

This March, besides winter, another thing we’d like to be over is the COVID pandemic and all the restrictions it has placed on life. It’s been a year, so one would hope that we’re closer to the end than the beginning but at this point we don’t even know what we mean by the end. The normal that we long for is likely to be different. It’s safe to say that winter will come to an end before the effects of COVID will.

However…there are also more signs of hope regarding the pandemic than there have been for many months. The number of cases has been declining for many weeks now which is a good thing. While the size of allowed gatherings may not change too much, with more people being vaccinated, more people should become comfortable being part of such gatherings, more comfortable being around other people. From a mental health perspective that will be a good thing. One does look forward to the time when TV6 won’t have to include coronavirus statistics as part of every news broadcast.

In the church, the month of March means Lent. One of the disciplines of Lent is fasting, something that most of us don’t do very well apart perhaps from a feeble attempt at “giving something up” for Lent. Fasting hasn’t been a big part of the Lutheran tradition probably because Martin Luther didn’t place much value in it, being afraid that fasting would be seen as a means of earning your way. Earning your way, however, is not the point of fasting. Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware says this about it: “We do not fast because there is anything in itself unclean about eating and drinking. Food and drink are, on the contrary, God’s gift, from which we are to partake with enjoyment and gratitude. We fast, not because we despise the divine gift, but so as to make ourselves aware that it is indeed a gift.”

Becoming more aware of God’s gifts is actually a pretty good goal for the season of Lent. We think of it as a time of repentance, with the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. However one approaches it, the reason for the season is to take stock as it were, in an effort to maintain perspective on what’s important in life. If things are out of perspective, Lent is a time to be more aware of that and to focus on those things that are most important, moving other things to the side. Part of doing that is to repent from a feeling of self-sufficiency and to turn toward a greater sense of how we have been gifted by God. As Bishop Kallistos says, fasting properly undertaken and understood can be a way of doing that, but it’s not the only way.

There’s no one path for Lent. The traditional disciplines might work for you and if so, that’s good. However you do it though, the idea is to be more mindful of your faith life, more mindful of who you are and who God is. It’s a process that takes a lifetime, but our annual Lenten journey is always a time to renew the effort.

Pastor Geier

 
 

Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640
contact@bethanyishpeming.org

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor
pastor@bethanyishpeming.org

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“Whoever
welcomes
one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
but the
one who
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