There is something that pulls us to Good Friday. We have to realize it is Jesus Christ that is pulling us to himself on Good Friday, the day the Revolution began. We are saved not in order to go to heaven but saved so that we may continue to bring people to Jesus Christ.
One of the biggest things I hear people wrestle with is the judgment that Christ brings and just exactly how that might affect us. This was the question I wrestled with as I prepared this sermon. I think of this as an invitation to join me in thinking through this process in your life. I hope you find it especially helpful as we begin our procession into Holy Week.
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
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Yesterday began our Lenten journey towards Easter. For some of us, it is a welcomed old friend, for others, it is as foreign as walking on the Moon. I hope my sermon from last night can help give purpose to why we celebrate Ash Wednesday and why we welcome the yearly application of dirty, nasty ashes on our forehead. I also hope you get some food for thought as you begin a Lenten practice.
I talk about the recipe for a Lenten practice as given by Jesus in the Gospel lesson: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. And to this recipe, consider the greatest commandment as told by Christ: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Then, mix in our Christian anthem and theme of Lent: first comes death and the come life.
Now ask, what sort of changes/practices can we begin that will bring about new life and what sort of death (to self, habits, divisions) will we have to undergo? What will your Lenten practice mean for someone else?
Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”