Reflections: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s Reading: Joel 2:12-19

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 1:20-2:3; Mark 1:14-28


“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12)


In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Repentance is one of the watch words of the Lenten season. “Turn to Me,” says the Lord. In other words, repent. Repentance means to turn away from sin and return to the Lord. Repentance means, “You were walking the way of sin and death; but now in Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, you walk in His ways.” As we learn and confess in Luther’s Small Catechism, we live a life of repentance and forgiveness by daily dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ.


Repent. Return. Turn to Me. Sounds good. But how do we do that? How do we repent, turn away from sin and turn to God? We don’t. We can’t.


Wait, what? It sounds strange at first. But think about it. How do we know our sins? God’s Word reveals them through His Word of Law. How do we see our sin for what it is and ask for forgiveness? The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. How do we return to God when all we really want to do is return to our sin? It is God who “repents” you, who turns your heart back to Him.


You see, God’s work for you isn’t done when He calls you to faith in Jesus. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work to save you and repent you as well. God shows us our sin so that He might all the more clearly show us our salvation in Jesus. 


Repentance, then, isn’t work we do to please God, but the work God is pleased to do in us through His Word by the Holy Spirit. Repentance isn’t God’s arcade game prize shop where we trade in our good works of repentance for a shiny trinket. No. From start to finish, repentance is God’s work. 


And wherever you find God’s work of repentance, His Good News of redemption is there to save you. Confession leads to Absolution. As the prophet Joel declares, “Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm” (Joel 2:13). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and, finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz is pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, WA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.