The Other “Three Days” of Lent: Celebration, Repentance, Love

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February 12, 2013 by Pastor Ben McIntire

AshWed

For anyone who is not familiar with Christianity, especially the liturgical traditions like the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, or Episcopalians; the church season of Lent might be confusing. For one thing, even many life-long Christians are hard pressed to tell you what “Lent” actually means. They probably could tell you that it’s the season leading up to Holy Week and Easter when Christians focus on repentance and guilt. But the name “Lent” actually comes from the German and Dutch words for “spring;” lenz and lente, respectively.

Usually in Lent, we talk about the “Three Days” during Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—those final hours leading up to Easter Sunday and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. But this year is unusual because we also have “Three Days” at the beginning of Lent—a day of celebration (Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday), a day for repentance (Ash Wednesday), and the day most famous for love (Valentine’s Day). I think this coincidence is worth mentioning because these three are the themes of our Christian life and our relationship with God. Put in the correct order, we would say:

1. God first loved us and shows us how to love; both to love God and our neighbors.

2. Out of that love comes true repentance. When we realize and feel God’s love, our sin is exposed and we learn to reject it and turn away from it. That’s what “repentance” means: turning away from sin.

3. In the Gospels, Jesus says there is rejoicing and celebration in Heaven whenever a lost person is found and saved. And our salvation is certainly cause for celebration for us too!

I hope your first Three Days of Lent are all of these things: joyful celebration over the gifts and blessings you experience in your life; a time of reflection, confession of sins, and repentance; and a time to express your love for God and for others and be loved in return.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner and I need your saving grace. Thank you for loving me just as I am. Help me to turn from sin and be filled instead with your love and mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Pastor Ben serves at St. Mark Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Storm Lake, Iowa.

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