March is here, will it be like a lion or a lamb? It seemed like there were days in February that felt more like March or April than they did February! Regardless of whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb, Lent has begun, and we are on our way to celebrating resurrection. But before we get to the celebration of resurrection, we have to walk through Lent. We walk alongside Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem ant the cross.

For most of us Lent is a time of “giving up” something, making a sacrifice of something we enjoy for the forty-day journey (remember Sundays are not counted in the forty days, since Sunday is always a celebration of Jesus). That sacrifice is made so that we can spend that time with Jesus. Prayer, scripture study, fasting are all things that we encounter on this Lenten journey. Lent is a time when we work on our relationship with the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is longing for us to draw closer to him. The Prophet Joel writes, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:12-23).

Tearing/rending your clothes for the ancient Israelites was a sign of repentance. And God is telling them through the prophets that God doesn’t want a show sign, God doesn’t want earthly treasures, what God wants is their heart. God’s desire of humanity hasn’t changed over the centuries, God still wants our hearts.

As we enter the Lenten season and contemplate what we will sacrifice for forty days, we might want to thank about how we will give our hearts to God, after all that’s what he really wants, and has always wanted. Moses in Deuteronomy says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart” 
(Deuteronomy 6:4-6). These are words that every Jewish person knows by heart and learned when they were children, even to this day. These that are words that are always close to them physically, (on their heads and arms, and on the doorpost of their home) as well as spiritually. They are words that Jesus calls us to live out as well, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

The Forty days of Lent is a great time to take a look at our hearts. Are we offering our hearts to God, loving God and all that God loves with heart, mind, body, and soul? Or are we thinking that God wants us to give a big financial gift to the church or talk about what we have done for the church, or how many church offices we have held, and the leadership we have offered, so God will see how devoted you are? Do we stop to think about what we offer to God at all? God
appreciates all that we bring and sit at his feet as our offerings, but if they are not done out of love for God and love for others, then we have missed the whole point of giving our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

Our hearts are God’s greatest treasures. Is God our greatest treasure? Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where is our heart?

A blessed Lent to you all.

Pastor Mona