Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season for many Christian traditions. In my own LCMS church, we'll begin this season of repentance with special midweek services and tonight there will be ashes on my forehead. The Scripture readings for today are all about repentance. Here are some key verses:
"Yet even now," declares the Lord,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
--- Joel 2:12-13
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
--- Psalm 51:10-12
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. --- 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." --- Matthew 6:19-20
There is a tradition of "giving up" something for Lent, a spiritual discipline that is intended to focus attention more on the things of God. This year, I am intending to take at least a partial fast from playing my favorite Facebook game, Mafia Wars. Seriously, I could waste hours a day on this game --- and I have. But between now and Easter, I want to use that time to read Scripture, pray, write for this blog, and read other books.