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|Lent 2017 Foreword
It is November 9, 2016, the day after the election, and I am sitting at my desk to write the Foreword for the Lenten issue of the JP. I am thinking of you, the readers of this preachers’journal, especially those of you who will be preaching next Sunday. What will you say? Dear Lord, let your Word be heard on Sunday. May the living voice of the Gospel be spoken and may the hearing and recognition of that voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, evoke humility and repentance, courage and hope, faith and love.
But now, as you read this, November 9 and the memory of your Sunday sermon are fading, and you have before you the call to preach through the season of Lent, 2017. What has happened since those November days? Well, Advent has happened and Epiphany too. We have sung “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “O Star of wonder, star of night…guide us to thy perfect Light.” And now Lent approaches. Will the old words of Lent—sin, repentance, sanctiﬁcation—help make sense of a 2017 world? Will sparks jump between Lenten preaching and the world of your listeners? As I have read on this November day the articles and sermons of this Lenten issue, they have turned me from the important and necessary analysis of the election and the direction of American society to questions of faith and hope and Christian dis- cipleship. They have pushed me to ask—What do I believe about God and human history? What does it mean to follow Jesus in these deeply troubled days? Is the Spirit moving in unexpected ways amid these swirling events? And my answer just now is that these Lenten articles and sermons have come this morning as a surprising gift. They have evoked glimpses of a deeper faith trying to stir and of new courage trying to take hold. May they be a gift for you as you approach your Lenten preaching and prepare to bear witness to amazing Good News.