Dear friends in Christ,
Every year, even Lent Madness pauses on this one day. On Ash Wednesday, we set aside our silliness as we are reminded of our mortality and our need of salvation. This year, more than ever, our world needs Lent and its invitation to return to Jesus Christ.
We live in a world that is gripped by fear and hatred. Too many of our national leaders seem intent on steering to the low road. Time seems to be in short supply as jobs, families, and various electronic gizmos compete for our attention. Now more than ever, we need Lent.
Lent is, above all else, an invitation to turn away from those things which keep us from following Jesus -- and to turn toward those things which draw us closer to our Lord and savior. As St. Paul says, "Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!"
Now is the time for us to renounce fear, to reject hatred, and to take the more difficult high road. Now is the time to make space in our lives for prayer, study, and worship. Now is the time to look carefully at our lives and to open up our hearts to change. Thanks be to God, the church has given us an entire season to do just these things.
On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our mortality. It might seem gloomy, but in fact it is an invitation to savor this earthly life as a precious gift and to live it well. Jesus Christ wants us to have life and have it abundantly, and Ash Wednesday reminds us that we don't really have that long to get to it. So let's do that, shall we?
We hope Lent Madness will be helpful on your journey. Behind all the competition and humor, we see in the saints a group of women and men through whom Christ's light burned brightly. They weren't perfect, but they managed to open their hearts to change, to let God in. As you move through this year's Saintly Smackdown, enjoy the community of fellow travelers who root for their saints as you root for yours. Learn what you can. Perhaps your prayer life will be enriched as you invite the saints in glory to pray with you.
Tomorrow, let the Madness begin. Today, get to church if you can. Hear the Gospel. Pray for God's forgiveness. Receive the ashen cross on your forehead. And begin this season of repentance with an open heart.
We wish you every blessing of God's gracious love this Lenten season.
The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness