By now the ashen mark from Ash Wednesday is no longer visible, and we are back about the rhythm of our lives. To be sure, there’s a different rhythm to Lent with soup suppers and worship in midweek. But there is enough of the “regular” rhythm to make even this time less different than it is the same. At work or at play, with friends, strangers or family, we tend to behave the ways we usually behave.

The church – that is, God’s gathered people – traditionally disciplines itself to a more deliberate approach to behavior during Lent. Praying more intentionally. Fasting – from food, from wasting, from many sorts of things – in order to remember our need for God’s loving kindness. And giving alms: the practice of charity, the sharing of money and time and energy and self.

That mark from Ash Wednesday is about each of us. It is the mark of our own need, even our own death. But do not be fooled into thinking that this is as far as it goes. That mark is about each of us and all of us. It is our baptismal seal retraced. In baptism Christ’s death makes of our need a sign of hope and binds us together.

So we take up the disciplines of Lent, we tend differently to our own behavior for the sake of one another, for the building up of the church. We join together in a common journey, letting our almsgiving and prayer broaden our cry, begging that the world itself may be marked for life. These disciplines moving us confidently toward Easter, toward the cross as the sign of God’s saving mark on all the earth. The saving mark already on us!

Lenten blessings to you and to the whole church.

Bishop Michael L. Burk


Merciful God,

Accompany our journey through these forty days.

Renew us in the gift of baptism,

that we may provide for those who are poor,

pray for those in need,

fast from self-indulgence,

and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

One God, now and forever. Amen

ELW prayer 385

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