Christian Fellowship Church's Sermons

Lent - Discovering Devotion in Ritual

March 31, 2019
Michael Acock
Colossians 1:26-27


Our life is the ring and we are constantly drifting to the outer rings believing stories we are writing about why others are in the center of life. The secret of life is choosing to live in the center of your real life.

Matthew 26:6-7
Mary seems to always be in the center of her life. She kept coming back to Jesus’ feet and not missing a thing. Mary chose to be in the center of her life-lavished gesture of devotion.

Mary and Martha in John 12:1-8
Other Gospel Accounts: - Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

As long as the story of the gospel is told, she will be remembered. Devotion is not about being known but it is always observed. The disciples who questioned the "waste" also get remembered in the story.

How can we live in the center of our lives? Can this season of Lent leading to Easter be more than simply a time in the Church Calendar every year? Might we discover devotion in the midst of the ritual?

"Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters." -Pope Benedict XVI

What is Lent? Why Lent?

As I grew up Lent was always about giving something up. It was religious and ritualistic, and there was a sense that I was to feel my badness: give something up and take something on.

Where does this fasting and penitent idea come from? Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness (desert).

Lent has to do with embracing a spiritual discipline of the wilderness through reflection, prayer, repentance, and confession.

Spiritual Formation - "The process of being transformed into the image of Christ for the sake of others." - Robert Mullholland Jr.

"...Radical self-denial is not to deny oneself some 'thing,' but to deny, or negate, one's self as the centre of our lives and preoccupations, as Jesus here invites all his disciples to do." - Jack Mahoney

"If a Christian wishes to observe lent, he is free to do so. The key is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one's sacrifice or trying to earn God's favor or increasing his Love. God's love for us could not be any greater than it already is." (GotQuestions? What is the meaning of Lent?)

Luke 4:1-13 - Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to reveal his strength against the accuser and experience the ordeal of testing.

Three Temptations

  1. Turn Stones to Bread – Son of God alleviate your hunger
  2. Cast yourself from the temple heights and let angels catch you
  3. Take power of all I am showing you but worship me

Henri Nouwen reframes these temptations so that we might relate to them.

  1. The temptation to relevancy - turn stones to bread
  2. The temptation to be spectacular - leap from the heights
  3. The temptation for power - bow to Satan

Luke 15 might open some insight into three other possibilities.

  1. Luke 15:1-7 - You just wanded through distractions of life and find yourself in the wilderness.
  2. Luke 15:8-10 - You are simply getting lost in the house. You're in the house but lost.
  3. Luke 15:11-32 - You have actively chosen your own way and deliberately told God: "I do not want you. Now you find yourself in a wilderness of your own making.

What can the wilderness (the desert) give us?

Rediscovering yourself as God made you to be - no masks, no pretenses. The desert gets us past our appetites so that we discover hunger at the soul level.

5 Progressions in the Wilderness (from "Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership - Lenten Meditations" by Ruth Haley Barton

  1. Noticing Your Inner Life
  2. Naming the what you have noticed
  3. Repenting of that which you name.
  4. Confessing to those who have been affected.
  5. Making it right
As we come out of the wilderness, we become a means of grace and light in our world.

A key piece of all the application of Lent Practices

  • Gospel of Matthew - This the Son I love, and my greatest delight is in him.
  • Gospel of Mark - You are my Son, my cherished one, and my greatest delight is in you!
  • Gospel of Luke - My Son, you are my beloved one. Through you, I am fulfilled.
The desert is rediscovering of identity and value apart from all discriminations and judgments - thus reunifying us to all humanity who are made in His image.

The ritual of lent provides access to rediscovering your relationship with Christ and reigniting your devotion.

Colossians 1:27 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Subscribe to our channel for weekly live-streamed sermons, bible devotions, and more! You can also visit our website for even more resources; plus, we'd love to hear from you!

Downloads and Links