I remember it vividly.

On February 26th last year, we gathered for our Ash Wednesday service marking the beginning of the Lenten season leading up to Easter.  It was one of the last large gatherings of our church family.

Then the world changed.  

Lenten season is a time of "giving up" something.  People fast from food or activities to draw their minds to the sacrifice of Jesus.

The last 12 months have been a time of "giving up" things that have been very hard to let go of. Activities like family gatherings, large holiday celebrations, dinners out, nights at a baseball game or the theater, vacation travel - they have all been been surrendered.  

40 days of fasting turned into 12 months of sacrifice for the common good.  It has been hard. But...

Lent is not just about "giving up", it is also about "filling up".

As we give up things that are important to us, God fills us with things that are important to Him.  We are changed for the better. We experience life as it was meant to be lived and that is good news for us!

I have missed many things in the last 12 months, but God has grown me in ways that would not have been possible without the forced fast of a pandemic.

People have become more important to me.  Large groups have given way smaller meetings where relationships have deepened.   I have learned patience.  I have witnessed first hand that God supplies needs to overflowing so I and my church family can bless others.   I have seen that I am not sufficient, and that is okay,  because  I have gotten better acquainted with the One who is. I have spent more time with my wife, Anita.  I learned knew skills that I never had time for. Like carpentry.  Really.  

Tonight, we will gather for Ash Wednesday.  

Many will receive Ashes as a reminder that from dust we came and dust we will return  (Gen 3:19).  That's a troubling message if it ended there.  But it doesn't.  Lent leads to Easter - to an empty tomb.   Resurrection power transforms dust.  God takes the ashes of our life and restores them.  He makes us new and better.

I pray 2021 is a year we continue to be filled up with the presence of God.  

But let us not forget the good things we learned about Giving Up/Filling Up over the last 12 months.

1 Comment

Penny Ginter - November 18th, 2022 at 4:45am

So well said and the challenges of Covid are still with us as we are preparing for Thanksgiving 2022. Indeed we are still either giving up things or recalling the things that are now gone. For me that means my husband who died in March of 2020 not from covid but from a broken heart due to the covid restrictions and no visits being allowed at his nursing home.

However I am choosing not to focus on his not being here but rather giving thanks for the 45 years that I was blessed to have him in my life. Anyone who remembers Ed Ginter knows what a fine, loving, kind person he was. He is missed and I am blessed to have been his wife.

Pastor Mike, you are also missed here in Wenatchee and I am choosing to thank God for the numerous times that our family was blessed by your presence in our lives.