Gardendale Nazarene

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Cross-Shaped Love | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Cross-Shaped Love

One of my favorite flowers is daffodils. What I love about them is not necessarily their bright yellow flowers, but how they are the first to break through the winter ground to remind us that spring is just around the corner. Though daffodils don’t just signal spring, but Easter too.

The season of Lent begins this Wednesday, March 6th. We will begin the season with an Ash Wednesday service at 6:30pm in the Sanctuary. Lent serves as the first sign of the new life of Easter. It, like the daffodils in our yards, is a signpost pointing us to Holy Week and Easter. Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding during Holy Week with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Saturday before Easter.

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the forty days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number ‘forty’ is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing temptations there. Christians today use this period for reflection, self-examination, and repentance.

I would like to invite you to make this Lent a time of preparation for Easter. To help us prepare, many people fast during Lent. Fasting can be a powerful spiritual discipline. Professor Laurence Hull Stookey writes:

“Fasting can alert us, however, to unacknowledged obsessions we may have about eating [or many other things] that can be tamed or redirected. Fasting can powerfully remind us of our dependence on God and others: Were it not for the One who gives seed to the sower, and for those who plant and harvest, and mill the grain into flour, who bake the bread, and deliver it to the store, we would be permanently hungry out of circumstance, not temporarily hungry out of choice…Lest Lenten discipline and devotion lead to smugness or a false sense of spiritual security, it must be noted that all such endeavors depend on grace. We do not save ourselves by virtue of such spiritual exercises rather, we seek simply to alleviate the blockages that prevent God from acting freely in and through us.

It is my prayer you commit yourself anew to our Savior this Lent. I hope that you take this opportunity to prepare yourself for God‘s work in your life as we journey together towards the empty tomb.