Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today's Reading: Acts 2:41-47

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 45:1-20,24-28; Mark 13:1-23

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lent reminds us to repent of thinking our salvation is just for our sake, as if Jesus saves you just so you can be saved. That is a gift, to be sure. But Jesus is saving you for a purpose: to be something useful to your neighbor.

Why does the Lord give you daily bread? To share with your neighbor in need. Why does the Lord give you the forgiveness of sins? To share that same forgiveness with others. Why does the Lord look out for you? So that you learn to look out and care for those around you.

Repentance is not just about the things we do wrong. It's also about turning the Lord's gift into selfish things, as if your earthly gifts and the forgiveness of sins are just for you and no one else!

So the Lord puts us in the Church. That's where we learn how it is with God and how we are to love one another. We learn from Christ that all of our selfishness is washed away by His blood. Nailed to the tree with Him are all our selfish sins. And we have a wonderful gift in the Church to care for and support our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In the Church we learn that the failings we have in our vocations of serving others are blotted out by Christ. It is this Good News, delivered with the forgiveness at the font, through Absolution and in the Supper of Christ's Body and Blood that the Spirit uses to change our hearts and to learn to love our neighbor.

People often refer to the verses above as some "golden age" of the Church in which everyone got along and shared everything, like it was the ideal of a hippie commune or something! But reading the New Testament shows us this was not the case at all. Rather, the Church was where selfish sinners learned to believe that for Jesus' sake their sins are forgiven, and where they learned to love others more than themselves. Both salvation and the life that follows it are gifts to us from our Lord. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Lord, help me win my foes With kindly words and actions, And let me find good friends For counsel and correction. Help me, as You hvae taught, To love both great and small And by Your Spirit's might To live in peace with all. (O God, My Faithful God, LSB 696:4)

This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it.