What does it mean for us twenty-first century Christians to “keep Lent”? the pastor asked his congregation this rhetorical question in a sermon on the first Sunday in Lent.
There was silence for a few seconds. Then Pastor Jacob continued with the rest of his sermon on “What do you give up or take on for Lent?”
After the service, shaking hands with his parishioners there wasn’t a word spoken to Pastor Jacob about his sermon. He wondered whether his message made any difference. He wondered if he made any difference. What was God up to in his life and in the life of the members of this congregation, Resurrection Lutheran Church? Sunday after Sunday the same response, the same soul-wrenching questions. Were there ever going to be any answers? he wondered. The more he looked and longed for, the less he saw any signs of resurrection in himself or his parishioners.
Then, one day while preparing yet another sermon for Sunday, there was a knock on his office door. He opened it. In front of him stood a homeless drunk whom he had seen in church before.
The drunk surprised him when he blurted out, “Pastor, I would like to take on something for Lent, can you baptize me?”
They sat down and chatted further, they agreed to go ahead with the baptism next Sunday, even though Resurrection Lutheran frowned on such a practice during Lent.
Next Sunday Bjorn Egan was baptized much to the surprise and dismay of many parishioners. Pastor Jacob wondered what was going to happen next. Was that the last he would see of Bjorn Egan?
The days passed by quickly and as the pastor began the Sunday service, he was shocked and delighted to see Bjorn Egan and a dozen or so other street people sitting in the two back pews.
Of course the congregation glared at them as if to say “What are you doing here?”
After the service when Bjorn Egan shook hands with Pastor Jacob, he asked him: “My friends here were wondering if you would baptize them too?”