Summary: I am giving up Lent for Lent this year, at least the way the Church typically does Lent. Lord is not interested in what I give up for just 40 days and return to it. He is interested in me giving up the sins in my life which will make Easter more joyous
TITLE: GIVING UP LENT FOR LENT
Although Easter is the most significant of the Christian holidays it does not enjoy the kind of enthusiastic fanfare afforded Christmas or even Thanksgiving. Lent is a forty-day period before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday which we just recognized this past Week. Therefore; we have now entered the LENTEN SEASON and have begun our “MARCH TOWARDS CALVARY” - that fills this Holy Day Season with –
• Ash Wednesday
• Palm Sunday Worship
• Munday Thursday
• Good Friday
• Seven Last Words Worship
• Resurrection Sunday
That will be our Preaching Theme from now until Resurrection Sunday – “MARCH TOWARDS CALVARY.” Perhaps some are wondering, where does the term “ASH WEDNESDAY” come from? In the days when fire was vital for cooking and heat, a major part of keeping house was keeping ashes under control. During times when serious problems arose that housekeeping chore would often be left undone and so a person who was in mourning – suffering distress - would often have ashes on their face.
• Eventually putting on ashes became part of the mourning process
• Ash Wednesday is about mourning for the sin which makes the sacrifice necessary
• Remember, during this 40-day period, we skip or don’t count Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sunday is always about the Resurrection
Lent is a season of soul-searching, a time for reflection and taking stock. In the earliest days of the Church lent began as a time of preparation for Easter, and by observing lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus withdrawal into the wilderness. How can we use the 40 days of Lent to prepare our hearts for Christendom’s most sacred Holy-Day? What do we do during the 40 days to shake ourselves from business as usual to a more spiritually attuned life? Most of us, truth be told, are out of tune spiritually.
• Feel good enough to work 9-10 hours on the job on Wednesday but don’t feel good enough to come to Prayer Service and Bible Study for hour and a half
• Feel strong enough to work 40-50 hours during the week but too tired to come to Church on Sunday for two hours
• Feel good enough to go to Wal-Mart for hour but can’t go visit a member and encourage them for an hour out of your day
• We sit still on Sunday morning talking about I am not an Emotional Person
• Then we go to Chesapeake Arena and shout and cheer on the Thunder but can’t open our mouth and say Amen on Sunday morning
• I am talking about a Spiritually Attuned Life
This Lent Season should help us be honest with God and become more connected to His Will for our Life.
• The Christian faith is supposed to be about imitating Jesus who said some radical things
• We tend to want to imitate Jesus in ways that appeal to us
• We pick and choose the parts of His life we will emulate based on our own sense of what is really important
I think oftentimes we get caught up in the wrong stuff during LENT Season. We try to make it appear as though we are doing things to deny ourselves and draw closer to the Lord. Every year during this time we do the same thing over and over again for Lent.
• Daniel Fast
• No Meat
• No TV
• No Movies
• No Restaurants
We do this same thing over and over again, year after year. It’s like the big conference Bishop T.D Jakes sponsors every year – Woman Thou Art Loosed.
• How many times do you need to be Loosed!
• How many times do we need to do the same things over and over again each year?
• How many times do we need to make the same sacrifices during Lent each year?
• Still have not drawn any closer to the Lord
Some think social issues are important so they focus on soup kitchens, and addiction foundations, and AIDS and homeless shelters and battered women all the while pointing out how Jesus fed the hungry. Some are more drawn to moral issues, so they picket abortion clinics, send e-mails about same sex marriage, campaign against all kind of moral issues and point to how Jesus dealt with the money changers and the Pharisees. Still others are more excited by doctrinal issues, they seek to imitate Jesus teaching and scripture use, they hold classes and spend hours thinking about eschatology and Greek and Hebrew meaning.
Here’s the thing –
• Jesus did not open a soup kitchen, he fed crowds who came to hear him preach on two occasions