Lent is a special season in the Christian year, a forty-day period, not counting Sunday's, during which we take our cue from the experience of Jesus being sent by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by Satan. It is in some ways like the annual physical: an examination to determine our health. The examination period of Lent, however, is about matters of the soul, faithfulness of our following Jesus, and the cost of our partnership with God in the healing of the world.
As our nation faces another tragedy with the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, we realize that First Church and our community are not immune to the same horror as the families of those deceased children and adults are facing today.
And now we are in the season of Lent and we realize that life is very serious and evil is very real. And it isn’t just out there somewhere else, it’s with us also.
On the second Sunday of Lent we learn that there are No Shortcuts for following Jesus. It’s not enough to:
Whether we know it or not, we are perishing; God's love offers us rescue and redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus explains that we are made up of body and spirit; a physical birth is one kind of "life", but it culminates in death. There is another kind of birth, a spiritual birth, a work of the power of God within the soul of a person, that leads to life not only abundant in quality but eternal in duration.
God wants our surrender, not our success; don’t think that you have to reach perfection in your journey. You can’t fix anything. God can and God wants to help us. Just surrender.
So, today, accept the challenge, strive for intimacy and a personal relationship with God the Father, reconnect with Jesus Christ and listen the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Did Jesus have to die in order for his mission to be carried on after his death? Yes! As John said in his Gospel:
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.
Jesus’ journey to the Cross left the cheering crowd behind because he did not come to be a celebrity. He took the way of the Cross because it was the only way to save you, and me, and whosoever will believe in him.
Amazing love, the love of a God who would die to rescue me!
Christ's journey to the cross is filled with images of His sacrificial love for us: the Palms, the Cup and the Bread, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns, and more. These images form the centerpiece of "Come to the Cross and Remember", a moving musical tableau of choruses and hymns that enrich this Good Friday worship experience.
Today, we look back and remember that earth-shaking day of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus was and is the signal of an insurrection against the ways of this world and the dawning of hope for the new heaven and new earth God has promised.