Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The 40 days of the Lenten season are a time of preparation and prayer, repentance and forgiveness, almsgiving and self-denial. It is a time of reflection as we ponder the great mystery of God’s everlasting love for us and God’s willingness to send his son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us so that we might have everlasting life.
The number 40 is frequently found in the Bible, Old Testament as well as New. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. Noah spent forty days and nights on the Ark during the great flood. The people of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years before coming to the promised land. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. Jesus lay in the tomb for 40 hours before rising from the dead.
What do 40 days mean to LSS? This past year LSS touched more than 56,000 lives. That is 153 lives a day or 6,137 lives in 40 days.
Who were these lives that we touched? Genesis 16:13 says “God sees me and cares for me.” Through Christ’s eyes, this is whom we have seen and for whom we have cared. It could have been a senior citizen who lost their home and possessions in the tornado at Wessington Springs or the flood in Canton. It could have been a young couple adopting their first child. It may have been a widower coming for counseling after losing a spouse, or someone needing help in overcoming a financial crisis. It could have been almost anyone in South Dakota for almost any reason.
The season of Lent is a time that we, at LSS, reflect upon the lives of those we touch and the tradition of almsgiving to aid in those we serve. The tradition of almsgiving is an ancient one, but one that is reflected in our modern day tradition of benefit lunches and dinners which go to support the many services of LSS.
Almsgiving is a tradition of giving money, food and clothing to the poor, the sick or the distressed. The LSS benefit events raise money to support the many services provided by LSS to our clients throughout South Dakota. Fifty-five percent of the clients LSS serves report incomes less than $20,000. Without the support of our benefits, we could not provide the services so desperately needed nor touch 56,000 lives a year. Please join us at one of our upcoming benefit events.
We wish you the blessings of the promises of Lent. And, we ask that you continue to bless us and our social ministry at LSS through your support of our benefit events.
Bill Peterson, LSS Vice President, Development & Foundation