February 19 2023

Lent 2023        

Many of you will remember Jeane and Jack Buyze, a couple who immigrated from the Netherlands after the second World War. I know many of you can still hear Jack and Harry Vedlhuis’ vocal duets. I still imagine I see Jeane cycling around Regina, as she did into her 90s. They impacted many people with their sincere love for Jesus. They are both home with him now and are missed here.

Perhaps some of you visited their home or Jeane’s apartment, filled with flowers, Dutch art, and memorabilia. Prominent among all this was a large poster of Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” It is a beautiful and moving painting, capturing profound theology and so many emotions: tenderness and desperation, peace and longing.

The Dutch priest Henri Nouwen wrote a book of reflections on this painting, toward the end of his life. We have copies for everyone of a Lenten devotional based on Nouwen’s book, called “From Fear to Love.” We would encourage everyone to make use of this tool for daily reflection and prayer throughout Lent.

These reflections will tie into our Lenten Sunday scripture lessons and sermons. February 22nd is Ash Wednesday, and we begin with the Father’s plea for all to come home: “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart.” Joel 2:12

Returning home is one of the themes of scripture. The lectionary passages in Lent begin with Adam and Eve expelled from Eden, follow Israel’s journeys in search of a home of their own and their exile, end with the prophetic vision of a resurrected people alive again, together and home with God.

In the Gospel lessons, we read how Jesus succeeding where Israel failed and gathered the lost on his own journey toward the cross. Through his death and resurrection, he made a way for all to return home.

In one sense, those of us in Christ are home. Jesus went to the Father and prepared a room for us within the Trinity. We are invited now, to live with him and in him. In another sense though, every day is part of our journey home.

In Lent we commemorate returning. It is a re-enactment that changes us. In this season, we intentionally practice and acknowledge that confession and repentance, and our suffering and death, are all part of drawing nearer to God.

Some of us might be returning for the first time. All of us, young and old, are invited to return, to come home.

May every day be a new opportunity for you to draw closer to God.

Yours with love,

Pastor Joel



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