Ash Wednesday and Lenten Reflections: Lent is here again! Every year on Ash Wednesday, we go to Mass to receive the literal Body and Blood of Jesus in the Elements of Holy Communion and to receive the traditional Ash Cross of Lent on our foreheads. Holy Communion and the Ash Cross of Lent remind us of who we are as Christians; we are both sinners and saints, if we are Christians. How does one know, if he or she is a Christian? Have you experienced water Baptism in a Trinitarian Christian tradition? Do you believe, that Jesus died to save you from all of your sins? Do confess the Holy Trinity to be the One True God? If you honestly answered yes to all three of these questions, then can be assured of your Salvation in Christ. Even though after we become Christians in the waters of Holy Baptism and the Holy Spirit blesses us with Faith in Himself, in Jesus, and in Yahweh, we sadly still sin daily. We all have broken God's Law and we need God's Gospel, so one minute we are theological smacked upside the head and the next minute we have a theological ice-pack on our heads. We need to be reminded of the fact, that we are sinners deserving Hell, but we also need to be reminded, that Jesus died to save us and to prevent us from going to Hell.
We are going to be looking at several themes over next several weeks in the blog posts. Our themes will be the following items: 1. You and I are sinners in need of a Savior, 2. Fasting, 3. Evangelism to Pagans and the lost in general, and 4. the Holy Trinity protecting and sustaining us. Some of themes will appear in more than one blog post and some of them will only appear in one, two, or a few blog posts.
What are some Lenten practices, which you follow? There sadly is some controversy over the observances of Lenten practices within Lutheran Christianity. Lutherans are sadly divided over the Season of Lent. Most Lutherans agree, however, that Lent is a time of spiritual preparation and focusing on the Passion of our Savior and God the Son, Jesus the Messiah. The controversies are over the fasting during Lent and the Lenten Sacrifices, which people make during Lent.
Even though I am a Confessional Lutheran, my Lenten practices are very Roman Catholic and Jewish in nature. When I first became Lutheran, I was attending St. Matthew Lutheran Church (ELCA) near Cridersville, Ohio. Many of the members were heavily influenced by their Roman Catholic friends, family members, and neighbors in the way in which they practiced Lent. Also we believed, that Martin Luther basically retained the Roman Catholic practices of Lent as an act of personal piety, but he did not force others to retain the Roman Catholic practices of Lent. However, Lent never was a strictly Roman Catholic season. Celtic Christians living during the Dark Ages practiced Lent like Roman Catholics, even though they were not under the authority of the Roman Pope at that time in Ireland, Wales, England, or Scotland. There is no red meat eaten on Ash Wednesday or on the Fridays during Lent and fish should be eaten at least once a day on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. Turkey and chicken are acceptable any day during Lent, since they not red meat. I also mentioned my Lenten practices are Jewish in nature. You might ask, "Why is that?" I give up pork products during Lent and I eat "Kosher-Style," as my cousin Jordan Coulter calls it. My cousin Jordan is a practicing Jew at the Jewish synagogue in Lima, Ohio. Both Jordan and I are both ethnic Jews as well, so giving up pork products during Lent is a very fitting thing for me to do.
"Why should fish be eaten during Lent?" "Why do we eat fish during Lent?" These sorts of questions are brought up a lot by various Christians. St. Peter and some of the other disciples were fishermen and Jesus told them, that He would "make them fishers of men," so we eat fish to remember the vocations of St. Peter and his fellow disciples. They were fishermen turned Evangelists. They went from catching fish to feed their bellies and making money to telling people about Jesus coming to save them from their sins, death, Hell, Satan, and Satan's demons. May Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit give us ways to share the Gospel with others.
Let us read Joel 2:12-19:
"'12 Therefore also now,' saith the LORD, 'turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:' 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth, if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the Bridegroom go forth of His Chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, 'Spare Thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the Heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, 'Where is their God?'' 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for His Land, and pity His people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, 'Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the Heathen'" (KJV 1611).
March 2020 Book Signings:
1. I'll be having a book signing at the Jen's Furniture and Collectible (JFC) on the corner of High Street and Chestnut Street in St. Marys, Ohio on Saturday March 28, 2020 from 11 AM to 3 PM.
2. I'll be having a book signing at the 2020 Waynesfield Winterfest held at Waynesfield-Goshen High School in Waynesfield, Ohio on Saturday March 14, 2020 from 9 AM to 3 PM.(Winterfest is sadly cancelled due to fears over the Corona-virus, but it should be on schedule next year.)
April 2020 Book Signings:
1. I'll be having a book at The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in the St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio on Saturday April 4, 2020 from 11 AM to 5 PM.
2. I'll be having a book signing at the 2020 Arts Place Literature Festival held in Dicke Hall at Wright State Lake Campus in Celina, Ohio on Saturday April 18, 2020 from 9 AM to noon.
October 2020 Book Signing(s):
1. I'll be having a book signing at the Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show at the Vaughnsville Community Center in Vaughnsville from 11 AM to 5 PM.
Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show: I will be hosting the 2020 Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday October 31, 2020 from 11 AM to 5 PM at the Vaughnsville Community Center on State Route 12 in Vaughnsville, Ohio. I'm looking for vendors to come and sell their merchandise. I'm pretty much open to anything legal and clean, but homemade baked goods and craft items are preferred. Please see my "2020 Vaughnsville Craft and Vendor Show: Vendor Entry Form" blog post for more information:
My Green Irish Angel Statues: My Green Irish Angel Statues are really cute! They are only $1 each and they make great gifts. I have three kinds: 1. Cross-Bearing Angels, 2. Praying Angels, and 3. Angels Holding Butterflies. I like the Cross-Bearing Angels the best, because they are carrying Crosses. Each one bearing a Cross reminds us, that Jesus died on the True Cross to save every single person from death, Hell, Satan, Satan's Demons, Original Sin from Adam and Eve, and their personal sins. They're available exclusively at Jen's Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on the corner High Street and Chestnut Street in between Circle K Gas Station and Zion Lutheran Church (NALC) in St. Marys, Ohio.
Stores Carrying My Books: My books, which I’ve written and published, are also available at the following stores: Brunner News Agency on Flanders Avenue in Lima, Ohio, Jen’s Furniture and Collectibles (JFC) on High Street in St. Marys, Ohio, The Menagerie at 1178 Indiana Avenue in the St. Marys Business Complex in St. Marys, Ohio, Readmore Hallmark Stores out at Eastgate Plaza and on Elm Street in Lima, Ohio, Wagner’s IGA Grocery Store in Minster, Ohio, and in the Shop section of my website ohioirishlutheranpress.com .
Thank you and Lenten Greetings!
James W. O’Flannery, President and Founder of Ohio Irish Lutheran Press (OIL Press)