Sermons

Summary: Contrition is the entire process of fasting, prayer, confession and repentance through amending one's behavior and making right those wrongs which don't hurt others.

“Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar. Like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same:

self-examination

and penitence,

demonstrated by self-denial,

in preparation for Easter.

Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 observed today.

In 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting, but it's unclear whether its original intent was just for new Christians preparing for Baptism, but it soon encompassed the whole Church. It was then the idea was connected to the beginning of Jesus' public ministry right after his baptism and his 40 days in the desert where he was tempted. Matt 4:1-2 says:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was famished.

How exactly the churches counted those 40 days varied depending on location. In the East, one only fasted on weekdays. The western church's Lent was one week shorter, but included Saturdays. But in both places, the observance was both strict and serious. Only one meal was taken a day, near the evening. There was to be no meat, fish, or animal products eaten.

The goal of which was to reorient our lives by focusing our lives on the disciplines of the Christians are urged to refrain from business as usual in order to attend to the body, spirit, mind, soul, and heart. It is a time set aside for worshipers to connect their faith walk with the ways in which they live, move, and have their being throughout daily life. Thus, the Lenten journey is a renewed spirit and a genuine desire to become an incarnational presence in the world.

To get us re-booted in the Spirit, Let’s dive into a traditional Lenten Scripture for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. It comes from John 12:20-33.

Background

Let’s jump into the letter by first reading this snippet once, and then we will dive in “old school”.

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Now let's dive in. It begins…

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

The aspect of this scene many miss is the presence of non-Jews coming to see the messiah. What an oddity. A non Jew showing up at a Jewish event. It would like a Muslim coming to Easter worship. In addition to being out of place, John was referencing a scripture every good Jew would know from Daniel. One that validities an old testament prophecy from Daniel’s dream reference in Dan 7:14, It says, “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.” The writing of John adds witnesses to the event to confirm this moment in history because the testimony of at least two witnesses made it a fact or truth.

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