This is a letter from our Texas District LCMS President, Michael Newman. It was originally published on the district website here.
As January comes to an end, the season of Lent is visible just over the horizon. I would like to invite you to join me in a special Lenten activity: a day of repentance on Ash Wednesday, March 6th.
Having a day of repentance wasn’t my idea. It originated with one of the founders of our church, Dr. C.F.W. Walther. During every year of his ministry, as was customary from old European church-year traditions, Walther called his congregation and our church body to dedicate a day to repentance, a return to God’s ways, a course correction for individuals and the whole church.
Why repentance? Not because it earns God’s favor. Not because it makes us look pious and religious. No, repentance is a gift of God designed to bring us back home to His grace and wholeness. God beckoned His precious people in Isaiah 44: “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Is. 44:21–22
Repentance slays selfish pride, turns us from sin’s siren call, quiets arrogant arguments, tames out-of-control egos, pulls us back from distraction, leads us to restoration of relationships, places us on the pathway of walking with God, and restores our hearts with compassion and grace.
We need this personally. We need this as schools and congregations. We need this as a district. We need this as a synod. We need this as Christ’s Church.
Will you join me for this day of repentance? As ministers of the Gospel, we have a high calling. Listen to the sobering words C.F.W. Walther spoke in an 1849 sermon for the day of repentance about our calling as stewards of the mysteries of God:
“God sows his heavenly seed upon our field more than anywhere else. So he expects that it will also have an abundant harvest among us, more than anywhere else in the world. God has diligently dunged and dug around the roots of the tree of our church as none other on the earth, so he seeks, therefore, a richer yield than from any other church in Christianity” (Joel R. Baseley, Tr., Occasional Sermons and Addresses of Dr. C.F.W. Walther, Dearborn, MI, Mark V Publications, 2008, 76).
Those are remarkable words for our little corner of God’s Kingdom, but as we repent, as we are turned away from ourselves and back to the One who formed us and forgave us, we will see Him accomplish more than we can ask for or imagine.
Joining you in repentance,
Day of repentance resources:
Questions for Reflection that may help you on March 6th:
Read Acts 11:17-18. What is the source of repentance?
Read Daniel 9:3-19. What do you notice in Daniel’s prayer of repentance that guides you in your repentance?
Read Jeremiah 3:11-12. What do Jeremiah’s words teach you about God’s heart as you repent?
Read Acts 3:19-20. The purpose of repentance is to make us “hunger and thirst for mercy” (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, CPH 1929, 253). What does God promise us when we repent of our sins?
Read Matthew 3:4-8. What, by God’s grace, follows repentance? How might this look in your life and in your congregation?
Prayer starter: Read Matthew 12:20-21 and thank God for His patience and mercy through Jesus our Savior. Share with God how you see Him leading you to change and grow in your life of faith and in your love for others.