Summary: A sermon to challenge believers to participate in a period of fasting during the Lenten Season.
WHAT IS LENT?
TEXT: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test your-selves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?; unless in-deed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not dis-qualified.
PROPOSITION: To motivate the hearer to a time of self denial for the Lenten season.
INTRODUCTION: The six weeks before Easter is called the "Lenten Sea-son". It is a time to focus on the suffering, death and resurrection of our Sav-ior, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died, and thus paid for our sins, we have life. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we too will rise and enjoy heaven forever.
• The word "lent" means "lengthen" and stands for that time in spring when the days grow longer.
• The original period of Lent was 40 hours. It was spent fasting to commemorate the suffering of Christ and the 40 hours He spent in the tomb.
• In the early 3rd century, Lent was lengthened to 6 days. About 800 AD it was changed to 40 days.
• Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter.
• Sundays are not included in those 40 days.
• Those 40 days correspond with Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness.
• Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, is celebrated in many parts of the world with feasting. The French call it "Mardi Gras". The Germans call it "Fausching". The feasting comes from the custom of using up household fats prior to the 40 days of Lenten fasting, when no fat is used.
• Shrove Tuesday takes it’s name from "shriving" or forgiving sins.
• The word "carnival", in relation to Mardi Gras means "good-bye to meat".
• During Bach’s day, often the organ and choirs were silent during Lent.
• In early England, women of the parish traditionally spent Holy Week scrubbing the church, so it would sparkle for the Festival of Easter.
I. THE LENTEN SEASON IS THE TIME OF PREPARATION
The Lenten season is intentionally set aside for examination, instruction, re-pentance and prayer. This season is one of preparation for all the people of God.
Galatians 6:3-5 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.
II. THE LENTEN SEASON IS THE TIME FOR PENITENCE AND DISCIPLINE
Lent is the time for mourning, solemnity and sadness. In the Lenten season, self-examination is crucial. An individual’s response to the call for purposeful reflection on one’s need for God is an important factor in choosing a disci-pline with which to actively observe Lent. For some, fasting is a means of self-examination and denial; yet, fasting is not an appropriate discipline for all people. The purpose of a Lenten discipline is to strip away those things which clutter one’s life or impede one from being in relationship with God. It is also a time for people to experience and reflect on the sufferings of Jesus, in light of personal sin and unrighteousness.
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despis-ing the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
III. THE LENTEN SEASON IS THE TIME FOR SPECIAL PRAYER
During Lent many people give extra time to personal and public prayer. The traditional symbol for these forms of Lenten prayer is the pretzel. In the fifth century, Christians were known to make dough of flour, salt and water, which they shaped into the form of two crossed arms to remind themselves to pray. Pretzels stem directly from Lent. The crossed arms of the pretzel were in-tended by German bakers to represent a Christian at prayer, with his palms on opposite shoulders, making a crisscross of his forearms. The product was called little arms or bracellae, which later was called brezel or pretzel. The pretzel was only eaten during the season of Lent, as a reminder to pray.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.