The Lenten season is here, those days just before we recall the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In some protestant churches Lent barely gets notice. In the Roman Catholic tradition the stations of the cross are portrayed. To me, the important part about Lent is not what you give up but what you pursue in prayer and acknowledgement of the brave sacrifice of Christ for our sins. “But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

When Jim was ten, his devoted Baptist family, who had taken him to Sunday school and church, encouraged him toward church membership. He and some other lads his age were baptized and then welcomed into the full membership of the church. Jim noticed something thereafter and although he never spoke of it, there was a noticeable lure of temptation, a struggle against sin he had not felt before.

The Christian life, he discovered, was one of struggle, right and wrong were never so vivid and Jim wanted to live up to what he knew as the Christian life.

Many refer to Lent as Eastertide and remember the circumstances of their own conversion and how that commitment has affected them and built their souls all their lives. “Believe on the lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Keep your eye on the cross, clasp the resurrection to your heart and through all the trials and tribulations of this life, keep the faith.

Will you join me in this holy season in a congregational prayer to our Creator?

Almighty God, most holy, in whom we live and dwell and have our being: We adore you, we praise you; we lift up our hearts in gratitude to you. Wonderful have been your gifts to us, and resplendent have been your blessings.

Hear our intercessions for those who stand in great need, whatever it may be. So many walk through threadbare hours devoid of faith, unaware that at the heart of things you do wait, and hope lifts, and love lives: For them we intercede in prayer.

Draw near to those who cannot come close to others because they were once hurt. Be close to those who are hard on themselves because life is not perfect and neither are they. Help those who toil but do not earn enough to meet expenses. Chastise those who work to degrade others. Call back those who no longer call your name in prayer but cannot forget that their parents did. Draw those that want to come closer to you, who are catching a vision, who feel the tug of the Spirit and the call of Christ.

Comfort the bereaved to see beyond the grave to an empty tomb and a place prepared for those who love the Lord. Allow us, O God, to minister to those who are in such great need.

Robe us in Christ’s humility to be your servant, that we might shower on human need your divine love, sharing again the poured-out life of Christ, in whom we make our prayer.

Amen.

E. Lee Phillips, a minister and author, works in Floyd County.