Robert Webber clarifies the purpose of Lent and worship during the season of Lent. Webber writes, “Lenten worship is a season for personal and corporate spiritual renewal. It is a time for intense study of God's Word, for meditation, and for prayer and for self-examination.
Yes, the Season of Lent is a time of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. We need that time of preparation. As Advent serves as a time to prepare for the coming of the Christ child, so Lent is a period of self-examination as we look within, and consider the trajectory of our lives and the way we are living them.
For Christians, the weeks of Lent leading up to Holy Week are weeks of discipline and devotion. We often think about what we need to let go of. What is it that has a hold on us to the degree that it keeps us from recognizing the love and grace of God? During Lent we follow our Lord to the cross and reflect on his suffering and death. Traditionally, Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday. As in years past, we will be observing the tradition of imposing ashes in the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead, or hand. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us, and remind us of our own mortality. The ashes also symbolize our grief; grief over our sin and separation from God.
Our Ash Wednesday service will be held on March 6th at 7:15 pm. in our sanctuary. Our theme this year is “Ashes, Ashes: We All Fall Down.” We will begin the evening with a pancake supper in Bethany Hall at 6:15 pm. Please join us for this inspirational time of fellowship and worship. Also during Lent, I will be leading a class on Wednesday nights entitled “Simon Peter: A Flawed yet Faithful Follower of Jesus”. There is much to learn from Peter. Next to Jesus, Peter may arguably be the most significant person in the New Testament.
Peter was an ordinary fisherman who was transformed into a follower of Jesus. He was faithful, yet flawed. Peter was the first to profess Jesus as the Son of God, yet he later denied knowing him, but he went on to give his life for the sake of his call. I hope you will participate each Wednesday as we take an in-depth dive into the life, faith and character of Simon Peter.
I will also be preaching a series of sermons about Peter each Sunday in March and April. The Series is entitled, “A Man Called Peter.” We will examine Peter’s life and his relationship with our Lord. So get ready! Be prepared! Easter is coming; worship and study will help us prepare the way for a joy-filled Easter Sunday.
In Christ, Pastor Joel
The season of Lent is upon us, the season of forty days leading up to Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. The forty days refers to the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism and the forty years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert.
Lent brings with it a whole host of traditions and practices. For Christians of all kinds, these weeks are weeks of discipline and devotion. Lent is a time to consider what we need to release. What do we need to let go of? What will we “give up” for Lent? What has a hold on us to the degree that it keeps us from recognizing the love and grace of God? There was a hymn we sang in years gone by, “Turn Back, O Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways.” (forswear made spell-check crazy!) The truth is that we all have foolish ways that need reflection. So we take time for prayer and worship, reflecting on our lives and on how we live them.
Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of the Lenten Season and our journey with Jesus to the Cross. We will be observing that tradition with our brothers and sisters in Christ from First Baptist Silver Spring on March 1 in our MHBC sanctuary. We will begin the evening with a pancake supper in Bethany Hall. We encourage you to join us for this inspirational time of fellowship and worship.
We can also use the weeks of Lent, not only to “give up” something, but “to take on” something. A lawyer once asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered his question with a question, “What is written in the Law? How do you understand it?” The lawyer replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus responded, “That is the right answer; DO that and you will live.”
As important as it may be to give up something, candy or smoking, or desserts for Lent, it may be equally helpful to DO something positive, or to take on something for Lent. We might take on meeting a need without anyone else knowing about it. We might take on financial support for an important ministry or cause. We might provide food for the hungry or clothing for the homeless. We could send an encouraging note, or make a call and let someone know how glad we are that they are in our lives. We could help a stranger, or lighten the load of a friend. There is no shortage of ministries or kindnesses that we might take on for Lent.
Giving up something for Lent is a tried and true Christian practice that reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us to show us how much God loves us. I suspect God would be perfectly fine with us if instead of giving up something for Lent, we used this season to take on something positive. Don’t you?
In Christ, Pastor Joel
Rev. Dr. Doris Barron-Shell