If you are in need of pastoral care or if you know of someone that is hospitalized and needs visitation, please call Pastor Scott at the parish office at 701.983.4626.
If you would like to stop by and visit at the office, hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm CT.
Pastor Scott Pierson is available anytime by phone. Office 701.983.4626 or cell 419.341.7491.
Lent is upon us. As we begin the season of Lent, some may wonder what it is and why we do it. The season of Lent has been practiced since the Church was still young, and it serves as a time of repentance and reflection. In the Old Testament, the use of ashes in repentance was common. You see the refrain “they repented in sackcloth and ashes” often throughout the Old Testament. Job 42:6 declares “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” This is why Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. When people are marked by ash and reminded of their need to repent. Ash Wednesday ushers in a time of forty days (Sundays aren’t counted because those were ‘feast’ days in the Church) where we focus on the impending crucifixion of Jesus for our sins and His resurrection from the dead. As we look forward to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we take time to recognize why we celebrate those days. We reflect on our sinfulness and we repent. We may not wear sackcloth and ashes, but we repent with a heart that is turned to the Lord.
These times of repentance in the Old Testament were often matched by a time of fasting. Doing away with or limiting one’s consumption of food to focus on the Lord. People would repent and fast in faith, trusting in the Lord. That is why people often “give something up” for Lent. We rarely give up food completely for any length of time like the people of old would, but there are things that we can fast from today. Is there anything that takes away from your time with the Lord? Things that take up more time than you realize and leave you saying, “I just don’t have time to read Scripture”? I encourage you to think of something that you can give up this Lenten season, whether it is Social media, television, chocolate, or whatever you feel led to give up. Lent is a time for spiritual reflection and seeking the Lord. So, seek the Lord while he may be found.
Devotional: As we enter into November, I am struck by the beauty of the snow. It might not always be welcome. The snow and the cold can be dangerous for livestock if it gets bad quickly. The roads become endless hazards that you may not notice until you’re in the ditch. Snow, and winter for that matter, may not incite the same sense of awe in all of us. However, there are few things more beautiful than a fresh snowfall. There is something about the pure white snow that creates a beautiful scene wherever it falls. There may be things about snow that we don’t like, but the beauty of it doesn’t change.
Thinking about snow reminds me of Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” The Lord first compares our sins to scarlet and crimson. The color of blood. A reminder of how devastating sin is. The Israelites had to sacrifice animals for their sins, and that blood was a constant reminder that they had failed the Lord. The nation of Israel also struggled with protecting the weak and marginalized of their society. Throughout their history, they would make sacrifices, sometimes human sacrifices, to the gods of the surrounding nations. They would fight and betray one another because of sinful desires. The color of blood was something that stained every Israelite from head to toe.
We may not offer animal or human sacrifices like the Israelites did, but we are still guilty of sinning. In the Gospel of Matthew, we see Jesus tell the crowds “If you look at your brother with anger, you are in danger of judgment.” Looking at your brother, or any human, with anger and hatred deserves the same punishment as murder. How many of us are guilty of this? This is only one sin that we as people can struggle with. Pick a commandment and there isn’t anyone who hasn’t struggled at some time with it. We are dead in our sin. Bloody corpses laying on the ground. We are in just as much need of our sins being made white like snow. And that has happened, by the blood of Christ.
It is interesting that the Lord chose to use the imagery of blood to describe the Israelite’s sins when it is the blood of Christ that washes away those sins! It’s as if the blood of Christ overcomes all things and erases those very sins, which it does! Our sins don’t go away, but they have been dealt with. The Lord describes the sins as going from red to white. It isn’t like our sins never happened. We still have real-world consequences that may come from our sins, but they no longer condemn us before the Lord. The blood of Christ flows to wash those sins because they flow from the wounds He took to pay for your sins. Christ’s death and resurrection takes you and your bloody corpse, washes you clean, and breathes new life into you. That which was dead is alive. That which was stained red by bloody sin has been redeemed to be beautiful like a fresh snowfall.