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February 9, 2024


 

On February 14 we will enter into a special season. No, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. Though, that might be special! I’m talking about the season of Lent. Traditionally the season begins on Ash Wednesday and goes until the Thursday before Easter (February 14-March 28 this year). The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lecten” which means “spring” and refers to the lengthening of days which occurs in the spring season. The practice of Lent isn’t found in the Bible. It’s a Christian tradition which developed later in church history. However, the habits that are practiced during the Lenten season are drenched with examples that we find in Scripture. We should pay close attention.


We find an interesting passage in Matthew 9 when Jesus is asked a pointed question.

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”


Jesus is speaking about a future reality that would happen within the span of his ministry. While he was on earth among us, his disciples would rejoice in his coming! But a time was coming soon after when he would be executed on a cross to pay the penalty for all our sin. After that time, he says, his followers will fast.


Why would they fast? He says why when he talks about the new patch on a garment or the new wine in the new wineskins. Jesus’s ministry ushered in God’s Kingdom onto earth. With Jesus’s arrival God began his work to renew all things in creation… including us! We live the tension of the right now and not yet. God’s renewal has begun! Jesus has come and paid the debt we own for our sin. That work is complete. His Kingdom is now advancing. His Church is completing His Mission. The Holy Spirit is forming the hearts of every believer day by day to look like his own heart. Until Jesus returns to make all things new once and for all… we will fast and mourn.


Why should we fast? We fast to align our hearts and bodies with Jesus’s suffering. We fast to recognize the sin that still has power in our lives. We fast in order to grow in compassion for those around us who are suffering physically and spiritually. We mourn, reflect, and offer ourselves to God because his final work isn’t yet complete in us or in the world. His saving work is done. We are forgiven and set free! But we long for his completed work and we wait on him until that day.


Fasting isn’t the only practice which Jesus and his disciples took part in. The season of Lent can occupy our hearts and lives in several ways.

  • Spiritual reflection on our sin (Not Jesus, but his disciples).

  • Times of prayer in thanksgiving and gratitude to God.

  • Time to care for and serve the under-resourced.

  • Listen to God’s call for obedience and surrender.

  • Focus on self-examination and spiritual renewal.


I challenge you to approach the Easter season this year in a fresh way. This year at White Oak we will approach the Easter season in fresh ways. We’ll help you to pray, reflect, and worship. I urge you to look for those opportunities coming soon. You won’t want to miss them. Also, find a Bible study that will help you focus on new habits this season.


Jesus has started a NEW THING in your life. Don’t approach him this season in the same old way. Don’t float busily or lazily through this season like you may have. He’s eager to refresh you and take you to new places… to remind you that you’re free… and that he’s got even more wonderful and beautiful things in store for you in the days to come.


Waiting with you,

Nathan



Nathan Hinkle

Lead Pastor

White Oak Christian Church





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