The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Falling into the river

Lenten spiritual practices invite us to encounter, experience the flow of God's unspeakable grace

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God," the psalmist writes (Psalm 46:4).

There is a "river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the lamb through the middle of the city," watering the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2).

There are "rivers of living water ... gushing up" in our souls, bearing us into the mysterious fullness of eternal life, even here and now (John 4:14; 7:38).

The river of God's life and love bursts from the bottomless spring of grace and flows through every moment of time.

nick kiriazisFalling in the river is what Lent is for.

As a boy, I remember the dirge of Lenten hymns and the call of pastors for self-examination for the manifold sins that surely stuck to the flesh, though I could seldom name many. The weekly confession served as a reminder that we are all "sinful and unclean."

I needed to repent from sinful ways to serve God with my whole heart, mind and soul. That word, repent, had a moralistic sound. It ground into me that I was unworthy of knowing God and receiving grace.

Each year Lent came as a nagging killjoy, pointing out failures to be what God wants: quit doing bad things, stop having evil thoughts and overcome small-souled selfishness.

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Embracing diversity