Repenting is hard work. I do not like to admit I am wrong. I do not like to say that I have done something bad to another person. It is difficult and painful to go to that other person, and say that I am sorry for what I have done. And how does this work with God. Is it easier to approach God with our sin, and ask for forgiveness? God is supposed to forgive all of our sins, and extend grace to all of us. Grace, that is a whole different story. God has never spoken to me with an audible voice, so it might be more difficult to approach a human being. “Forgive me God for being a violent person to others. Whew that was easy“

Lent is a Christian festival of forty days to engage God and the world. Sometimes people give up something, like pizza and chocolate, to remind them when they are hungry for pizza, that God deserves their attention. I did not grow up with Lent, so I am not quite sure if am doing it right. I have tried to give up anxiety and fear, but when I think of fear, I sometimes get more fearful. That seems to not work very well at all. I have tried to give it over to God, but I must be holding it still, because it never quite leaves me. “What am I doing wrong?” This is not how it should work.

Maybe I should give up God, the Bible, the church, belief and faith for Lent. Maybe the absence of these benchmarks of my life, might lead me to a deeper walk with God. The writer of the book of Psalms, a book of devotions, often talks about the absence of God. But… it might lead me to a darker place as well. They talk about the “dark night of the soul…” I do not want to go there either.

Let us pray. You may want to be silent. You might want to get on your knees. Or, you might want to go outside to a lonely place, and just shout really loud. You might want to fold your hands and close your eyes. What form of prayer helps you the most?

Pray… I thank God for being with me, in my life. I thank God for my family, my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my siblings and all of my friends. Thank you God for Floradale Mennonite. I was allowed by you and the church to be the pastor there for 25 years. I was blessed and cared for by the church. Thank you God for being with my life in this area of the world. Thank you God for saving my life nine years ago. Thank you for giving me opportunity to travel the world from the first trip I took to the Netherlands, to the trip we took to Colombia, just a few weeks ago. I have seen many amazing things, listened to many languages and found you in all those places. Thank you God. Amen.

Being thankful for my great life might be my discipline for these forty days until Easter Sunday.

Being thankful for what I have might change my relationship with God. I do not think that this is being evasive about the things that are wrong with the world, and the sins that I have in my life. The early church leader of the Church, Paul from Tarsus, wrote letters to communities, and almost always he was thankful to them, and to God, at the beginning of these letters.

So what are you thankful for in your life? Maybe we can all start there during Lent. In this we might transform our soul, and the relationship we desire with God. Thank you God, the creator, the saviour and the constant presence in my life. AMEN.

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Fred Redekop
Fred has completed 25 years as pastor in Floradale. He now works for Mennonite Central Committee since October 2016.