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     Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. Mark 2:19-20

     Dear Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of surveying your cross and preparing for the greatest of all celebrations—Easter Sunday, the foundation of our hope and the fountain of eternal joy.

     For your glory and our growth, we ask you to inundate us with fresh grace in the coming weeks. We don’t want an ordinary Lenten season, Jesus. Saturate it with the gospel. It’s all about you, Jesus. It is all about you what you’ve done for us, not what we promise to do for you.

     Sadly, I used to dread Lent like late summer football practice. A lot of striving and sweat mixed in with much uncertainty and fear. “What’s the coach think about my performance? Am I doomed to sit on the bench? Will I even make the team this year?” What a misuse of the season of Lent. What a complete misrepresentation of the gospel. What a dismal way to live the Christian life. We’re your betrothed bride, not a beleaguered people.

      Indeed, Jesus, we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral. Jesus, for you’re the loving Bridegroom who died to make us your cherished bride. The work’s already done; the dowry has been paid in full; the wedding dress of your righteousness is already our; the invitations have been sent out; the date has been secured; you’ll not change your mind! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

     Over these next 40 days intensify our hunger, assurance, and longing for the Day of your return—the Day of consummate joy, the wedding feast of the Lamb. In light of that banquet, we choose to deny ourselves (fast) certain pleasures for this brief season. But we’re not looking to get one thing from you, Jesus, just more of you. Fill our hearts with your beauty and bounty, so very Amen, we pray, in your holy and loving name.

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