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Second Sunday in Lent

Today's Focus:  Christ's Sacrifice Makes Us Citizens of Heaven   Today we continue our Lenten journey to the cross. The Christian life has sometimes been compared to a pilgrimage, a journey to our true home in heaven. There are many indications that we are strangers in this world. Many reject God's Word (First Lesson) and "live as enemies of the cross of Christ" (Second Lesson). Yet we reach out in love to those who reject Jesus just as Jesus reached out in love to those who rejected him (Gospel). As we continue our Lenten journey, we remember that Jesus resolutely went to the cross to make us citizens of heaven.

First Sunday in Lent

Today's Focus: Lord, Help Us When We are Tempted!   Every day, Satan tempts us in various ways. In our first lesson, we will see that Achan gave in to temptation when he stole from what was to be devoted to the Lord. We must admit that many times, we too have given in to Satan's temptations. But Jesus defeated Satan in our place. His perfect obedience counts for us. He went to the cross to forgive us for all the times we have fallen into temptation. Because Jesus "was tempted in every way just as we are--yet he did not sin," he is able to empathize with our weakness and he will give us grace to help us when we are tempted (Second Lesson). So we approach God's throne of grace with confidence and pray, "Lord, help us when we are tempted!"

Ash Wednesday

Today's Focus: Ash Wednesday   Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the church's 40-day journey of repentance and renewal in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. The Scripture readings for Ash Wednesday issue a strong call for Lenten preparation through contrition and repentance. Lent is the time of the church year when the passion and death of our Savior come into sharp focus, and when the sins of God's people may be most keenly felt.
The name "Ash Wednesday" stems from the Biblical custom of expressing sorrow and mourning by smudging one's face with ashes, in much the same way as we wear black clothing. Throughout the Chrisitan era, when Christians would come for worship on Ash Wednesday, their pastor would place on their forheads a smudge of ashes mixed with olive oil in the shape of a cross, while proclaiming a powerful reminder of sin's deadly effect: "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Only by the cross of Jesus do we have forgiveness and new life, which gives us strength for the journey.

 
Transfiguration of Our Lord

Today's Focus: A Radiance that Never Passes Away   On the Mountain of Transfiguration, Jesus revealed his glory. "His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning" (Gospel). Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus about "his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem." When we contemplate the glory of what Jesus did for us a Jerusalem, it makes us want to reflect his image in lives of holiness here, "renouncing secret and shameful ways" (Second Lesson) and looking forward to the glory that will never fade away in heaven.