March 22, 2014
“Our Resurrection Day
(or Easter) Message 2014”
Welcome to Irwindale!
Since this is our last event before Easter I want to share a special message today and then leave you with a challenge (if you see it that way) to accomplish on your own before or on Easter Day. Hopefully, you will follow through and believe me; it will be worth your time!
Maybe my first job is to tell you that personally I call Easter “Resurrection Day” and have for as long as I can remember. After all, that is exactly what Easter is and I enjoy throwing that in satan’s face! And, I also refuse to capitalize his name as you might notice. The enemy had a plan to derail our salvation of grace, mercy & forgiveness of all our sin at the cross; but since the beginning the Lord had a plan in place and the resurrection was just that; God’s plan to save us from destruction from the beginning of creation.
Today’s message may be brief, however since we are in the season of the year called “Lent.” First a little history on Lent if you are not aware:
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days*:
*Matthew 4: 1-3 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (See also Luke 4:1-3
All churches that have a continuous history extending before AD 1500 observe Lent. The ancient church that wrote, collected, canonized, and propagated the New Testament also observed Lent, believing it to be a commandment from the apostles. However, Lent exists nowhere in the Bible, nor is there any direct command to follow this tradition in the Bible.
Where they likely thought that command came from is the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:35 when he writes: “Who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?” Paul as well as the Apostle Luke in Luke 17:10 where he says:“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” Both these statements probably come from the Apostles re-stating Job 35:7 “If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand?”
Originally, “Lent” was nothing more than the English name of the season between winter and summer, the season when the snow melts and the flowers bloom. German and Dutch have the same word, but with slightly different spelling. In German, “Lenz” is the poetic word for “spring.” In Dutch, the word “lente” never changed its meaning. It is still the name of the season between winter and summer, and it is still used with that meaning in everyday life.
The church observance took place during the season of lent. In England, “Lent” came to mean the observance rather than the season, leaving the season without a name. Instead of saying stupid things like “Lent happens during lent,” English-speaking people invented the word “spring.” Today, instead of calling the seasons winter, lent, and summer, we call them winter, spring, and summer. We use “Lent” instead of “spring” when we refer to the church season.
The purpose of the liturgical calendar is to relive the major events in Jesus’ life in real time, which is why Lent is forty days long.
First, our Western church today differs a bit from the churches in Eastern countries of the world. Since we are in the Western church in North America, the following is important to remember:
Because Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, we skip over Sundays when we calculate the length of Lent. Therefore, in the Western Church, the 40 day season of Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls upon the seventh Wednesday before Easter.
In many countries, the last day before Lent (called Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, or Fasching) has become a last fling before the solemnity of Lent. For centuries, it was customary to fast by abstaining from meat during Lent, which is why some people call the festival Carnival, which is Latin for farewell to meat. From here we get the tradition of “giving something up for Lent.”
I have set the scene now for Lent and maybe you keep this tradition today as much of North, South, and Central America do, especially in the Catholic Church along with some Protestant churches.
However, in today’s culture and society the reality of meaning is lost of why we choose to give something up for Lent. When I read and heard of what one of our local church youth group members from our home church wrote on their youth group blog. I was impressed that such a young person today really understood the truth and power of what the season is all about. In fact, anytime I see almost anyone at any age really understand, I get impressed because we have lost it’s real meaning.
Here is verbatim what this person said:
“So God revealed something to me today while I was praying about Lent and I just thought I’d share it.
So I was praying about my commitment to Lent because I have given up my video games and that’s been insanely hard to do. So I was praying about it and considering changing it to something a bit easier.
Then God revealed something to me: The whole purpose of Lent isn’t centered on what you give up or successful you are at giving it up. It’s not about giving something up then being tortured by it for 40 days because if you focus only on giving something up you’re missing the whole point of Lent.
Lent is really about drawing closer to God through what you give up. Like, if you say I’m not going to watch TV for 40 days and end up spending that whole time on your phone, then what was the point? All you did was switch out one distraction for another. It doesn’t matter if you can make it forty days, because if you can congrats, but if you do it by replacing one distraction for another then there wasn’t any point to it. I think some of us youth are focusing too much on the giving up part and not seeing the fact that the reason we are giving it up is so we can use that extra time we have to draw closer to God and not just listen to music instead of watching TV.”
To me, that makes me smile. Our young people with all the distractions that life today offers & they “get it” blesses me. I am really proud of our youth group at church. So the question is what will we do with Lent?
It’s the beginning of the path to Easter …or in my words Resurrection Day. That is where my suggestion, no …my encouragement …or even my challenge goes out to everyone. How about we all give up less than an hour of our time and hang out with God this season and go to church with Kathy and me through a live broadcast of a powerful message that will amaze & challenge each one of us.
If we were having another race during this time this would be the exact message I would bring to you. However, since we are not having another race event, plus the fact that my friend Bruce Stefanik presents the message far better than I ever could; the dynamic opportunity is available on internet, or by MP-3 download simply by copying and pasting this link into your computers’ browser.
Please, take time to listen as the “sacrifice of your time” to listen is so extremely worth it this Resurrection Day on April 24th or during this season of Lent.
May God richly bless you, & may your “Easter” season be blessed!
Bob & Kathy