“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:2
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6. The call to repent is at the heart of Lent and change is at the heart of repentance. During this season, we make changes in our worship life. We change our paraments to purple. We add a large, wooden cross to the chancel. We omit the word “Alleluia” from our liturgy. We add a mid-week worship service. These changes help us come into a closer relationship with Jesus and a greater appreciation for his suffering and death on our behalf.
Our mid-week worship series this year is called “Voices of Repentance.” Each Wednesday, at 4:30 and 6:30 pm, the stories of people who came to hear John the Baptizer will be told. Though the individuals may be fictional, their lives reflect the lives of people in our day and time. We, like them, are called to hear and respond to the call to repent, not just in worship but in every aspect of their life.
John the Baptizer’s call to repent challenged the people of his day to make changes in their everyday lifestyle. He challenged them to turn away from focusing on themselves to an intentional focus on Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Many Christians today make changes in their daily life during Lent to focus more on Jesus and less on them-selves. Some give up a pleasure during this season. Others experience new pleasure by adding a spiritual discipline. Through such changes, they hope to more fully prepare them-selves for the “kingdom” or “reign” of heaven in their life.
Jesus is coming back at a time when no one expects. While we don’t know the exact day or time, we do know the day is closer than it was ever before. Now is surely a great time to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Pastor Mark R. Rhoads