Christmas is a spectacular holiday: the decorations, the classic movies and songs, the excuse to inhale a massive amount of desserts, giving and receiving gifts, and the fellowship of family and friends. If all we had were these festivities it would be a fun holiday, much like July 4thor Halloween. But, Christmas has something more to it. What makes Christmas special isn’t just the “magic” of the season but the meaning of the story.
“[Christmas] means not just hope for the world, despite all its unending problems, but hope for you and me, despite all our unending failings.” Tim Keller
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S.Lewis
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Dr. Seuss
Have you ever gone on vacation intending to use that time to grow spiritually only to head home afterwards realizing you neglected your spiritual walk? Vacation is a time I’d like to spend more time in the Word but the opposite usually happens. My normal rhythms are interrupted. The pace is fast and our schedule is full. There’s so much to see and do. Even during vacation it’s easy for your time alone with the Lord to get squeezed out. While the week ends up being a lot of fun, you arrive home feeling spiritually weak because you’ve neglected the most important thing.
This past Sunday, Pastor Mark continued our All In series on stewardship. The focus this week: time. While none of us probably look forward to the conviction accompanying a sermon on how we use our time, it’s a necessary exhortation that actually frees up to focus on the things that matter most in our short lives.
For those groups—and there are a lot of them in Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism—that hold to a liturgical calendar and its celebrated seasons and days, Lent begins the pilgrimage to Jesus’ cross and resurrection. For most in the West, the season begins with Ash Wednesday and takes place over the next 40 days (Sundays excluded). Can Lent be abused or misused? Yes, of course. Can Lent be observed in a helpful way? I think so. It’s certainly not prescribed in the Bible so we shouldn’t see it as a God-ordained means of grace or as required for Christians, but at the same time, if done in the right way it might be a helpful teaching opportunity that prepares our hearts to feast on the Bread of Life, Jesus. Here’s a very brief explanation as to what Lent is, what is dangerous about it, and what might be helpful about it.