Recorded on March 10th, 2019
Lent is a season that is set apart. It is a way of staying close to God. We can’t just wake up and remain in God, Remaining takes active participation on our part.
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] today normally have a reader and I didn’t get the reader the reading this week so I don’t ever ask a reader to read well not ever not usually unless I’ve gotten them the reading so I will read to you the scripture this week we are going to be reading from John 15 we have been in John actually almost two months now leading up to this Lenten season seeking how we can follow Jesus and finishing up our follow Jesus series and then leading into the Lenten season I thought this was the perfect springboard and John 15 Jesus says I am The True Vine and my father is the gardener he cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful you are already clean because of the word I’ve spoken to you remain in me and as I also remain in you no branch can bear fruit by itself it must remain in the vine neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me I am the vine you are the branches if you remain in me and I and you you will bear much fruit apart from me you can do nothing if you do not remain in me you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers such branches are picked up thrown into the fire and burned if you remain in me and my words remain in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you this is to my father’s glory that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples this is the word of God for the people of God so what I have learned is tradition for you all at this church is that Ash Wednesday is celebrated on Sunday so today is our Ash Wednesday Sunday and at the end of the service we will be doing the imposition of the actions like we would do on an ash Wednesday service so I wanted to teach you about what Ash Wednesday is and about what Lent is this comes from a desire of a girl who didn’t grow up in church and for the longest time I had no idea what Ash Wednesday and Lent were and I think that the church does a disservice to us when we don’t every season remind us what these things mean and why we might want to enter into a season called Lent Ash Wednesday is simply the beginning of the lent season now some of you might be interested to know that Ash Wednesday and Lent are never actually mentioned in Scripture they’re not a scriptural mandate Jesus never told us to do Ash Wednesday or a modeled or exampled it for us jesus never told us that Lent was something that we we should do it’s not a part of the Old Testament though there’s similar things in the Old Testament they used to when they were repenting or mourning a death they would put on sackcloth and sometimes cover themselves in dirt or ashes so you see remnants of these kinds of rhythms throughout scripture seasons set to part for specific reasons of calling us into remembering and that’s what Lent is Lent is a season set apart Lent begin probably around the 4th century of the church’s life and it began as a way of new disciples of Christ preparing for baptism you know when you were coming to be baptized as a new believer there was a whole process that happened before you were baptized which I greatly miss because I think that in a process that happens before baptism you actually appreciate your baptism more because you understand number one what is happening number two what your faith means and in the early days they would teach you so much about faith so much about Christ and there were so many symbols involved in your actual baptism they would do it at dawn so that when you went under it was dark and when you came up the light was happening and that was intentional because it meant that you were going down when it was dark and you’re coming up and your life is new again now granted there’s one person that probably got that and the whole group that was being baptized but the symbol still meant something to those people they would have you face a certain direction east and west because of the way that this because of the symbolism that came with that and the Lenten season comes from that because they had these converts these disciples fast and prepare for the day that they were going to be baptized and they always did it on Easter so they had them fast and prepare for forty days starting on Ash Wednesday and the forty days does not include what day do you know Sunday’s so for forty days counting from the width counting from a Wednesday forty days up until Easter Sunday not including Sundays that’s the Lenten season and you know the reason why we don’t include Sunday is is because they’re meant to be little mini Easter’s on the way to Sunday so if you if you observe Lent if you want to give something up for Lent if you want to do something special for Lent on Sunday you’re supposed to be able to participate in that thing that you’ve given up you’re supposed to be able to have little mini celebrations of what Jesus means to us on Sunday so Lent is 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday and so these disciples in preparation for that big day and preparing themselves for giving themselves over to faith for giving themselves over to Jesus would for 40 days fast now I don’t know if it was a full asked but would fast somehow in preparation for giving themselves to Jesus that’s beautiful she’s making a picture for Miss Beverly for me to take it to her at the hospital in just a minute so I felt like I needed to do that so they would prepare themselves and I think there’s beauty in that because I think today we learn on emotion we say I feel like I want to give myself to God I feel like I want to repent of my sin I feel like I want to do something different so I run forward I and I get in the water and everything’s going to be different but we know that it’s not necessarily different yes Jesus is in my heart but my life doesn’t immediately change I have to participate in changing that life when there’s a process leading up to that that to that baptismal I have already started the process of participating in changing my life and changing the rhythms of my life before I enter the water and the old becomes new again I think there’s real beauty in that so yes it’s true Lent is not in the Bible Ash Wednesday is not in Scripture but it is a rhythm that brings life it is a spiritual discipline it is a way of disciplining ourselves now in the scripture that we’re reading today Jesus tells us that we need to work to remain in him he says he is the true vine the father the gardener we are the branches if you remain in me and I in you you will bear much fruit apart from me you can do nothing if you do not remain in me you are like a branch that is thrown away in withers but if you remain in me and my words remain in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you remaining takes choice remaining takes work remaining is not the remaining doesn’t just happen right we can’t just wake up and remain in God remaining takes active participation on our part that’s what spiritual disciplines are spiritual disciplines are a way of actively keeping us in Christ I believe one of the things that Christ is calling us to is a way of living our life in rhythms that keep us remaining in him and there’s so many different ways that we can do that we can have a spirit of prayer rhythm in our life we can have a devotional rhythm in our life we can have a fasting rhythm in our life we can have a silence rhythm in our life we can enter into seasonal rhythms like Lent or Advent where each year we had time set apart where we do specific things so that we remember so that we step outside of our normal daily rhythms to remain in Jesus and so what I encourage you in this Lenten season is not to so much partake in that giving away something which you can do and there’s nothing wrong with that but to use it as a season apart a season to change your rhythm for 40 days in such a way that you better remain in Christ that can mean adding something to your life or taking something away from your life for some of you it’s going to be a both and for me it’s going to be a taking some phone time away from me in order to add some silence time in my life so that for 40 days and I so all confess okay I’m just going to be true why not I’ve been a fool all day I’ll just be a fool now I like solitaire I don’t know why I do it’s mindless and it doesn’t require much for me and it keeps me occupied when I’m bored and it keeps me too occupied sometimes so I’m gonna give some solitaire away and instead I’m gonna go into some time of silence with Christ over these 40 days intentionally not haphazardly maybe if I think about it no I’m going to intentionally every day take time to be quiet still stillness is a spiritual discipline I’m going to add a spiritual discipline to my life so it’s not really about what I’m taking away it’s really about what I’m adding now some of you may need to some people take away chocolate well what’s the purpose of taking away chocolate or food well someday when people take away food from their lives it’s a way of repressing your sinful nature and some of the times we need to do that sometimes we need to bring our bodies in check and sometimes our bodies rule too much of who we are so some of you that’s the right response for you but some of you need to give away gossip and put in the spiritual discipline of silence not necessarily silence with Jesus but silence of the mouth Thank You Alan for the little giggle I appreciate it
[Laughter] Lent is not about giving something up Lent is about remaining Lent is about training ourselves to be with Jesus it’s about remaining it’s about the vine staying or was about the branch staying connected to the vine it’s about the rhythm of our lives being with Jesus he is the vine we are the branch how do we keep that connection this Lenten season ours are our teachings throughout Lent are going to be about the different spiritual disciplines so that maybe you can try different spiritual disciplines throughout this season as a way of remaining in Christ some of you might have tried some of these different spiritual disciplines some of them might be completely new to you or maybe I’ll share them in a way that is completely new to you and there are things that you didn’t really think about before but the goal here the goal for us is that we remain because the truth is is that our lives will bear no fruit no fruit without remaining in Christ and we have all covenant it together to bear fruit we want to shine his light we want to be his light in the community whoa hey I know you don’t like me we want to be his light in the community in our lives in our families lives if we want to be the light if we want to bear fruit we must remain connected and that does not happen on accident so let’s you and I choose together this Lenten season not just to do that traditional let’s give something up for no good reason let’s choose to find a way to remain in Christ to strengthen our rhythm of life with Christ so that we may bear fruit in the kingdom of God let us pray together god I love you and I thank you for this community I thank you for your son who has given us the ability to shine your light to be holy through him to others but God I know that we can do better I know that I can do better and God I ask you that in this season that you would show each and every one of us how it is that we can do better how it is that you want to connect with us on a deeper level show us a new rhythm show us how to remain in you as we receive the imposition of ashes today may we come forward ready to put down our laziness of our spiritual formation the laziness that we bring to our life with you the laziness that we bring to prayer to fasting to spiritual devotion and ready to step forward willing to do the work necessary to remain a part of the vine that brings life that brings fruit and it’s in the name of Jesus that we pray amen you