Shepherd Notes February 2024                                           

Sheherd notes
  Preparing for Lent and Easter          
  Joel 2:12-13  “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. 
There is a story about a pastor who was walking through a dangerous part of town. Suddenly, a mugger approached the pastor, pointed a gun at him, and demanded all his money. The pastor opened his coat to get his wallet for the mugger. The mugger noticed the pastor's collar and realized he was a pastor.

     Immediately the mugger stopped the pastor. "Sorry, I did not realize you were a pastor, “You can keep your money." The pastor was very relieved that he could keep both his money and his life. He began talking to the would- be mugger. the pastor got a couple of candy bars out of his pocket and offered one to the would-be mugger. "No thanks," the man replied. "I gave up chocolate for Lent."  

You and I may laugh at that story. Unfortunately, it is all too true for many of us. "I don't go around mugging people," you say. I am sure you do not. However, how many of us work to prepare our "outside" for Lent but forget to prepare our "insides" for Lent and Easter. We may give up eating certain foods, do some Spring cleaning, and get our house ready for the family to come for Easter dinner. That is preparing the "outside."

The book of Joel tells us, "Tear your hearts and not your clothes, and turn to the Lord your God because gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he change His mind over disaster. (Joel 2:13). What is our "inside?" It’s our heart, our soul. It’s the way we act toward our family and friends. It’s the way we act towards God.
How can we prepare our "inside, our Heart" for Lent and Easter? You and I can do this by coming to church to hear God's word every Sunday and Midweek service. We can do this by reading God's word every day. We do this by thinking about all that God has done for us in sending His son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and rise again to overcome them. Lent is a time when we remember with sadness why Jesus had to come and die on the cross. Lent is also a time we remember with JOY that Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter morn. Jesus defeated death and the devil for us and gave us life with HIM now and forever in heaven. Come, join us this Lenten season. Together we will prepare our whole selves for the joy of Easter.
 Your Servant in Christ   Pastor Brian