–a reflection by Interim Rector Rev Thomas Kortus–
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves to Jesus and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, we are invited to imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. When we enter into the traditional spiritual disciplines of Lent, Easter becomes a genuine personal experience of the resurrection.
Lent is an opportunity live into the Spirit’s words in Hebrews 12:…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus... It is a season in which we seek to enter more deeply into repentance and to fix our lives more firmly on Jesus. Lent keeps the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ central. Christianity is not a self-help religion. We are never good enough to merit our salvation, and Lent reminds us that it is only by the grace of God that we are rescued from sin and death.
I pray that you will enter into Lent this year by joining us for regular Sunday morning worship and by taking advantage of these intentional lenten activities. I particularly commend the Servant Songs of Isaiah Bible Study on Wednesday nights and the Morning Prayer Eucharist services. Prayer and Scripture study and meditation are foundational to our lives in Christ and particularly during the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday (next week!) is also a powerful and intentional way to begin this important season. Call the church office of you have any questions about these activities (919-908-9187).
Ash Wednesday Services March 5 7:30 a.m. & 6 p.m.
Five Oaks SDA Church /4124 Farrington Road, Durham
Nursery for ages 0-3 provided at 6 p.m. service
Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist throughout Lent
Tuesdays and Fridays 7:30 – 8:10 a.m. / March 7 –April 11
All Saints Church Upper Room / 3622 Lyckan Pkwy, Suite 5006, Durham
Lenten Bible Study: Wednesdays 6-7:15 p.m. throughout Lent
Five Oaks SDA Church
Join us weekly as we study the Servant Songs of Isaiah together as a church family. Brian Maiers, Bishop Steve Breedlove, Dr. Jennie Grillo, Rev. Brad Acton, and Dr. Ross Wagner will be teaching and leading our discussions. Sign up for dinner at church or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org
) the Sunday before you attend ($5 per parson or $12 a family) or bring your own. Dinner begins at 5:30. Nursery and Young Elementary program available upon request. Contact the church office for more information.
As We Forgive Movie Screening March 23 7:00 p.m.
Five Oaks SDA Church
As We Forgive
is a short documentary film that explores how Rwanda has recovered from genocide through the work of reconciliation. The event will also be an opportunity to learn more about Rwanda and hear how God is calling Brandon, Emily and Elsa Walsh to serve him there as Ambassadors to the Gasabo Diocese. For more information contact Brandon Walsh (email@example.com
Information about our Holy Week services will be announced soon.
THE MEANING OF LENT
The days of Holy Week–Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter–are packed with meaning and significance central to the Christian faith. Lent is a season of preparation and of intentionally dwelling on the great passion of Jesus Christ. On Ash Wednesday (March 5), which marks the beginning of Lent, we will come forward, kneel, and receive the imposition of ashes upon our brows as we hear these words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.” This is the message that sets the tone for Lent. Dust and ashes symbolize two themes at the heart of Lent: our creaturely mortality and our moral culpability. We are finite and sinful people. So we humble ourselves before the eternal God who created us and who redeemed us, our only source of life and righteousness.
Lent is a “bright sadness” (Schmemann, Great Lent). During Lent we become more aware of our sinfulness and need for God, but we also remember that we are redeemed by Jesus’ death on the cross and receive forgiveness and eternal life through it. Lent is sobering, but it ends in Easter!
We Focus on Jesus
During Lent we focus on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness where he battled with the devil. We are given the opportunity to renew our baptismal vows to renounce Satan and all evil powers and sinful desires, to trust in the grace of Christ as our Savior, and to follow him as our Lord.
We also focus on the passion of Jesus. Jesus set his face to Jerusalem. He intentionally and willingly walked toward crucifixion and death to redeem the world to God the Father. So we focus on self-denial, dying to ourselves and pivoting from self-gratification.
TRADITIONAL LENTEN DISCIPLINES
“There is no Lent without fasting. Christian fasting is the voluntary denial of something for a specific time for a spiritual purpose” (Schmemann, Great Lent). It is a restriction that creates space for God. Fasting from food helps us to know more vividly that Jesus is the true source of our sustenance and being, but many people choose to fast from other things as well to create space for God.
We set aside times to quiet ourselves in the presence of God in order to take an honest look at ourselves and to cultivate a closer union with God. In prayer we gain a greater awareness of our inner disposition, external behaviors, hearts, and habits. Some choose to meditate on the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes. Reading the Daily Office Lectionary also leads us to prayerful reflection before God.
Giving of ourselves sacrificially over and beyond our tithe is a form of self-denial that loosens our bonds to the flesh and the pleasures and vices of the world. Consider how you might give more of yourself this Lent.
The more we can enter into Jesus’ sufferings and death in that final week, the more we will know both our own great sin and need for God’s great goodness and love. Reading and meditating on scripture during Lent enables us to know Christ and share in his sufferings, becoming more like him in his death so as to share in the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10).
If you have questions about how you can enter into these traditional Lenten disciplines, please contact one of our clergy: