Ash Wednesday

This week, beginning with Ash Wednesday on March 2nd, we are entering the Christian season of Lent. Lent lasts for forty days (not including the Sundays). Sundays are excluded because those are the days we remember Jesus' resurrection. Every Sunday of the Christian year is a little Easter and thus a time of joy and celebration. We leave Lent and enter the Easter season on Resurrection Sunday(Easter), which is April 17th this year.

Though it is on the calendar for the church universal, Lent is a personal time of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. That is why I chose to preach on the Gospel of Luke for several weeks prior to Lent and through the Lenten season, along with my preaching being aligned with the Bible Study at LeValley each Wednesday evening at 6:30,

Luke’s gospel is primarily the history of Jesus’ life from his conception and birth to his death, resurrection, and ascension. Luke’s gospel was written for Gentiles who became Christians, people much like us. Through Luke, we learn of a man who lived a sinless life in perfect submission to his Father’s will. As people justified through Christ, we are striving for this perfection, sanctification, but we will most likely not achieve the perfection of Jesus in this life.

During Advent and Christmas, I preached on Mary being impregnated by the Holy Spirit with Jesus, followed by Jesus’ birth that we celebrated on Christmas Eve. The next sermon from Luke was preached on January 9th , where we remembered Jesus’ baptism and our own baptism, as well. This sermon was important to our life in Christ because we were reminded that Jesus wanted to be baptized by John, just as each Christian should be baptized to new life. Even though he came to earth fully divine, he was also fully human and wanted to live the human life, as well as reflect the human life to others.

After his baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and prepare for his ministry. There he was tempted by Satan. That text reminds us that our capacity to repent and to resist temptation comes from our relationship with God and the grace of his deliverance rather than from our own strength and initiative. If we are weak in our faith, we make it easy for demons to invade our spirituality. Just as we need supplements and vitamins to maintain and enhance our physical health, we need to pray, be in God’s word, the Bible, and know, understand, and live the doctrines of our faith in order to be strong spiritually.

I won’t go into detail about each sermon, but, Luke’s gospel is a discipleship book. He writes about becoming a disciple, remaining a disciple, and making other disciples. January 23rd was the calling of his first disciples. He followed this with his Sermon on the Plain, telling us the truth of our lives as he sees us, and confronting us with our responsibility to be a part of God’s kingdom with our response to what we see in the world.

Many out there will say that they are not worthy to be disciples of Christ, but my sermon last week reminds us, and tells them differently. We are all sinners saved by our faith. The week prior to that, Luke was helping each of us be better disciples of Jesus Christ. He was giving his disciples then and his disciples now, a “pep talk”, reminding all of us that our life as disciples would not be easy. We would be rejected and despised by many.

As usual, I have rambled, but I hope as you read the summaries of these sermons, you may be interested in joining the Bible study. We’re only on chapter 5, so you haven’t missed too much. You can even join us on Zoom, if you want to participate from home.

I haven’t offered specific devotions for the Lenten season, but studying the Gospel of Luke can serve as an excellent devotional. I pray that each of us will spend time with the Lord during these 40 days, assessing our faith, where we are and where we should be. If you’re not baptized, perhaps you would like to schedule your baptism. If you’re not a member at Berlin Center or LeValley, consider affirming your faith as a member of the Body of Christ.

One thing I’m asking of each of us is to read the vows of baptism and membership in the hymnal. Are we living them out? I pray that each of us can say “yes, I am.”

Love In Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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