May your journey to Resurrection Day be filled with blessings and peace | Faith

Jessica Wong

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time. The Lenten journey is rapidly leading followers of […]

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

The Lenten journey is rapidly leading followers of Jesus to the events of Holy Week and crucifixion. These 40 days (excluding Sundays) symbolize the time our Lord spent in the wilderness after baptism by his cousin John. There he underwent hunger, thirst, spiritual battles and temptation unlike any other person.

Centuries of church tradition have taught us there are at least three distinct marks of Lent. Prayer obviously begins the priority list, followed by fasting and giving of alms. There are many other disciplines a Christian may participate in. The reason I chose to identify three is because each of them demands sacrifice. In 2 Samuel 24:24, the king said, “ … Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. …” Sacrifice usually is associated with suffering and pain.

Prayers can be made to our Father in heaven at any time. One does not need to make an appointment or stand in a long line. The only requirement is that we have faith. Scripture teaches it is impossible for anyone to please the Lord without possessing faith, which can be as tiny as a mustard seed. Jesus talked about two men standing in a busy place. Both were offering prayers. One was using great theological oration with a self-righteous attitude. The other humbly smote upon his chest and pleaded for mercy.

Fasting in today’s world may appear quite different than in ancient times. One of the purposes of a fast is to call attention to the need of deeper trust and consecration to our Lord. We become hungry for natural sustenance, which reminds us to be equally hungry for things that are spiritual. Only then will the soul become fat in the Lord.

The third mark of Lent is giving of alms. Historically, this has meant money or food given to the needy. One way we can be faithful in almsgiving is to support a charity of our choice that directly feeds the poor. From my humble perspective, we should not give cash to people on the streets. There are many panhandlers who abuse the system. There are varied ministries to which one may contribute, with assurance that needs are being legitimately met. It has been said, “Give until it hurts.” I choose to say, “Give until it feels good.”

May your journey to Resurrection Day be filled with blessings and peace.

The Rev. Will Shewey is pastor at Shades of Grace United Methodist Church in Kingsport.

The Rev. Will Shewey is pastor at Shades of Grace United Methodist Church in Kingsport.

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