Go..and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father...Son and...the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

From the Pastor's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

          This letter finds us nearly halfway through the season of Lent.  Our upcoming calendar already lists our worship services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.  Already we look forward to celebrating the resurrection.  And in that celebration we give thanks to God for the gift of life with which He has blessed us, the promise of eternal life through His crucified and risen Son, Jesus Christ. 

          In the midst of this time, we find ourselves in the middle.  We recall the purpose and aim of Lent, a time for penitent reflection on our own sinfulness and need for a savior.  This season serves as a time for us to focus on God’s Law, the things He requires of us, and the ways we have fallen short of that requirement.  It serves to drive us to our observances of Holy Week, as we see Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His institution of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, and His death for the sins of the world on Good Friday. 

          It can be tempting to gloss over this time.  After all, we know we are sinners.  We know the bad things that we have done and we regret those things.  We’ve confessed them privately before God and publicly with the rest of the congregation at our weekend worship.  We know where we’ve fallen short of God’s will for us.  So, why dwell on them?  Why spend the time pondering God’s Law in detail.  After all, all it seems to do is multiply our sins.  But that’s just the point: the more we know of God’s Law, the more we realize our sin, and the more we realize our need for the Savior. 

          This, after all, is the reason for the season of Lent, just as it is the reason for the Law.  The Law shows us our sin so that we truly understand our need for the Gospel and the salvation that can only come from Christ Jesus.  This meditation on God’s Law is even encouraged by the psalmist. 

“I will meditate on your precepts

and fix my eyes on your ways.”  Ps. 119:15

We meditate on God’s precepts that we might know His will for us.  But it’s not just that.  Just a few verses earlier the psalmist says,

“I have stored up your word in my heart,

that I might not sin against you.”  Ps. 119:11

We spend this time in Lent, focused on God’s Law and our own sinfulness so that we might not sin further.

          And the beauty of this season is that it culminates with Holy Week and Easter.  All the meditation, the self-reflection, the penitence, and the repentance push toward Easter and they help to make our celebration that much more joyous.  St Paul points this out as well:

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Cor. 15:14

Without the resurrection none of the things we do matter, our observance of Lent, knowing God’s Law, guilt, repentance, these are empty without the good news of the resurrection and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

          We may spend some time in the sorrow and repentance of Lent, but not to beat ourselves down.  Instead we spend the time we do in Lent to add to our joy at Easter.  And so this Lent we spend some time pondering Psalm 41 and Christ’s fulfillment of all His Word.  We spend some time singing more somber songs, setting a tone of penitential reflections.  I encourage you to consider picking up a Large Catechism this Lent and reading through Luther’s explanations of the Ten Commandments as a reminder to each of us of our need for Christ.  You could also simply pick up a book of the Bible and study a chapter with a friend or loved one.  Whatever the case, use the time we have in Lent to meditate on His precepts, to hide His Word in your heart, and to lead us all to a full appreciation of the joys of Easter. 

In Christ,

~Pastor Nathan Peitsch~

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St. Matthew Lutheran Church
504 Walnut
Mapleton, IA 51034

Office Hours:
Tuesdays 8:30 a.m.--3:30 p.m.

Pastor Nathan Peitsch (Vacancy Pastor) 515-570-8078
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