River City Spokane

Lent: Origins and Purpose


Hello everyone, this is Kerr, welcome to gospel home brew a resource of River City Spokane. Let us brew in God’s word together as we begin our pilgrimage to the cross and the gift of the gospel as we reflect, examine, and celebrate Lent this year.

Lent.

Before we get into the origins and purpose of the ancient practice, I would stir some thoughts in your mind and pray they stir your heart as Peter said, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:13-15)

You Are More Sinful Thank You Think, And More Loved Than You Ever Dreamed

The truth that I would like to share with you is that you are more sinful than you ever thought you were, but you are more loved than you ever dreamed. The wonderful truth on this statement is that it does not be un-real at either part of this simple statement: the sin end or the grace end. Though this is a simple statement it has profound realities.

Our sinfulness which is worst than you would like to think is paid for at an infinite cost. If you reflect on this simple yet deep truth you behold, you see, that God’s valuing you is a free gift of grace that we do not deserve but that delights, enjoys, to give.

This is why he gives us Jesus.

He wants to value you.

So this is the reason, that as a church, we brew through lent. We want you to let yourself see the fullness of your sin, and with every glance remind yourself of the infinite cost that was paid so that your mind, heart, and life does not dishonor the beauties of the Lord’s sacrifice by holding onto the sin and guilt that he paid to remove. So that, when you have the slightest sense that:

He loves me!

He values me!

He has taken me into His family!

Do not let your sin and guilt hit because the truth is you do not deserve any of this; it is free blood-bought gift of grace cascading from the heart of God. You did not earn this. You did not limit it. But he loves to give it.

You see God’s disapproval of our imperfections, which in truth are real and daily, is never hatred toward the child of God. The disapprovals of our imperfections have become God’s disciplines. It is that the rod of God becomes the kiss of God. What words does God use to show us this? In Hebrews 12 it states, “The Lord disciplines the one whom he loves and chastises every son and daughter he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6). Which the author of this letter is actually quoting Proverbs 3:12, “The Lord reproves him whom he loves as a father the son in whom he delights.” And if we are honest with ourselves these things feel and seem separate to most of us and so we have to re-school, remind, ourselves with text and truths like this for as God’s children even while God is spanking us, even while we see a frown of disapproval on a behavior or attitude, God never has hatred toward us, he never ceases to loves us, he never stops forgiving them, and he never ceases to delight in us as His own.

We are more sinful than we would like to think, and we are more loved than we ever dreamed possible.

So together let us reflect and dwell on the wonders of the cross and the gospel. Let every sense of your unworthiness send you higher into trajectory of praise for the infinite price paid for us. And this is the purpose of Lent.

Lent: Origins and Purpose

For us to understand lent and all its characteristics of the forty day preparation for Easter and its fullness requires us to wander back and forth between it historical evolution in the church, and it gradual development or purpose. Did you know that by 330 A.D., a Lenten season of forty days was common in the early church? This truth in itself, in a community of believers that was only grated religious toleration in 313 A.D., is of no small significance. Advent and Christmas was not a universal celebration in the church until at least the sixth century. However, the Paschal meal, the Lord’s Supper, was a universal observance. This meal, every Sunday and even daily in certain places, brought the Christian community together to celebrate again and again the mandate in Luke 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

No rules, for instance, were needed to keep this community together. The memory and practice of the Paschal meal, was a living, vibrant one. No laws had to be passed to maintain it. Actually, no regulations requiring the celebration of this meal were written for centuries, and it was only as the hope of Jesus imminent return had changed from the thought that it would happen now to the realization that it was already but not yet. It was realized that Jesus, was alive in the community even though His risen return as they hoped was less and less sure to be sooner than later.

The resurrection, the triumph of Jesus over death, they knew, had already happened but was not yet fully accomplished. Until that happens, they, and so should we, understand, it is up to the community itself to be the agents that God uses to spread the truth of the cross and the gift of the gospel on the earth. And it was here, the Paschal meal, in the memory of the cross and the empty tomb, which the Christian community grows more and more deeply into Jesus. And it was here that the Christian community renews its responsibility to go on together in Jesus name to fulfill His great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The practices that grew around the death and resurrection of Jesus would evolve from place to place. But the common thread in all of it was the truth that they were Jesus’ and Jesus was with them in the now and forevermore. “God was with us” is the declaration of the Jewish Passover, but the declaration of the Christian community is “God is with us.”

This is our declaration!

Lent is a time for each of us to reflect and dwell on our ongoing commitment to the truths and implications of the Resurrection in our own lives, here and now, in the everyday stuff of life. And this ancient Christian practice was used to bring both healing and honing of the soul, where both repentance and faith, both the abolition of what is meaningless in our lives and the intensifying of what is meaningful.

Lent is a call to renew our commitment grown dull by a life marked by routine than by reflection. Lent brings us up close and personal, to stop for awhile, to reflect and dwell again on what is going on in me and what God has done to for me. It is a time for me and you to decide again and again if we truly believe that Jesus is the Christ and do I truly hunger for Him when the story of the angles song and Bethlehem star grows dim for me.

Lent calls us to fast so that our heart Hunger for God. Lent is not a ritual. It is a time to think seriously about who Jesus is, who He is for us, who he is for the ones we love and have contact with, who He is for the nations, to renew our faith from the inside out. It is a time for us to hear the same word the twelve hear Jesus say, “Come and see” (John 1:39). It is a time of beginning our walk with Jesus all over again refreshed and reoriented.

When we position our hearts and minds in the consciousness of the cross of Jesus, the Christian goes again to the tomb of the heart, stripped of all its murmuring, lusts, and distractions to say, “I hunger for you. I believe.”

The question that may emerge is, how should this be done?

The beauty of this ancient practice is that it can be observed in the modern. And what we decide to do to practice this season is not what brings healing and re-commitment. However, what we decide to do can be used by God to position our heart to take a pilgrimage back to the cross (where we see how sinful were really were and are, what God paid and the infinite cost it took God to rescue) and bring to light the glorious truth of the gospel for our pasts, present lives, and our futures.

Whatever routes that are taken during the Lent season let it be to expose our hearts where there are idols we bow to, self-satisfaction we pursue, and bring us to the edge that gazes upon the blood-soaked Savior hanging on the cross and the triumphant Savior who walked from death and who looks into your heart and says, “I love you. I value you. You are my family. You are forgiven. You follow me. Share me with a groaning world. Remember me. I remember you. See I am making all things new, even in you.”

You see Lent allows us to face ourselves, to see the weak places, to touch the wounds in our own soul, and to determine to follow the treasure of the universe: Yeshua Hamashia—Jesus the Messiah.

Why at River City Spokane?

We at River City Spokane desire for those that God has brought to us to shepherd, care for, and disciple, to see them focus on their sin, embrace the cross, and to prize Jesus as their supreme treasure. And one of the ways we feel this can be accomplished is by leading them through the pilgrimage of the cross and savoring the gift of the gospel. This is known as Lent. The word lent means “spring.” During the time of spring everything that has went to sleep or died comes back to life. It displays the truth of the gospel that resurrection has come and will come. Lent is a time when we lead people to see what it took God to love us. Every time we see the leaves come back, or flowers bloom, or the season change things we should see the Lord remind us, “I resurrected for you and I have resurrected you. Your seasons in life are changing because I am changing you. Follow me and see me. Adore and treasure me. Do not forget my cross, your cross. Do not forget my resurrection, your resurrection.”

The purpose of lent is for the follower of Jesus to witness and behold the bloody Savior dying for their sins and adoption into the family, and to behold and cling to the resurrected Savior who alone can save them.

We at River City Spokane believe that people are changed and transformed when they see the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6). Together we can help our people see the reality of sin, the purpose of the cross, why the good news is good, and trust in their Savior more and more each day of their lives. We can do this by living life together and helping them brew on the truths of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

This can be lived out in multiple ways. In our Gospel Homes we will encourage the body to brew with us for forty days, as is the tradition, to position on hearts on the trek toward the cross and resurrection by abandoning the things that have caused their heart to stray. We will light candles to remind ourselves of the light of the world traveling the dark road to triumph. We will record podcast to help our church family reflect and dwell on truths of the cross and the gospel. We encourage be to swim in the ocean truths of God’s word. And we will celebrate lent together, and not just as individuals. This is Kerr, and let us celebrate lent together to go deeper into the heart of Jesus. And let us begin our brew with the Scriptures that will be first look at by Thomas Lambert next week. Open your Bibles to Psalm 51. Let us read and savor it together now, and we hope this would be the scripture you dwell on for the week.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

The pilgrimage begins.

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