Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent on York (A Series based in the Prodigal Son)

I'm not one for Church Calendars in particular. They've always seemed a little too religious and Church-y. And perhaps too Roman Catholic. And hollow. And in any case, I'm Gen-X.

But the more I think about it, the more I realise how evangelical and 'old school' (in the good sense) the calendar is. And perhaps even good for mission in a post-Christian age. We were freed from constraints (like the calendar) by the a baby-boomers. But maybe then, we where then left without roots and routines as a part of our lives.

The way I figure it, we celebrate Christmas which gives us a heightened opportunity to declare the wonder of the Incarnation. And we celebrate Easter, which gives us a heightened opportunity to declare Christ risen.

So why not remember Advent (before Christmas), which allows us to declare that Christ will come again? And why not Lent (before Easter), which gives us a sustained opportunity to rail against sin, and also reflect soberly on the ailments of the human heart. These are two things that evangelicals like me are big on: the second coming, and the reality of sin.

It just has to be real and authentic and from the Scriptures. That's all.

Lent is the season that is 40 Days from Ash Wednesday (last week). It concludes on Easter Sunday, where we declare that the answer to human sin is in the Resurrected Jesus.

With that in mind, I present here to you the LENT PREACHING SERIES at St Philips York St. I will preach a relevant sermon based in the Parable of the Prodigal Son on each of the following topics (Sundays at 8:30AM Holy Communion; and 10AM City Church), and we will interactively explore these issues at the Lunchtime Conferences we will host at 1:10PM on Thursdays. All at 3 York St.

It is a series about God, Honesty and Life, based on the Prodigal Son.
Sunday 1 March (Lent 1)
The Joy of the Father (Luke 15:1-12)
(With an exploration on Thursday 5 March at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 8 March (Lent 2)
The Lure of Distance (Luke 15:13-14)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 12 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 15 March (Lent 3)
The Limits of Regret (Luke 15:14-17)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 19 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 22 March (Lent 4) - Holy Communion at 10AM
The Power of a Moral Inventory (Luke 15:17-18)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 26 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 29 March (Lent 5)
The Freedom in Confession (Luke 15:18-23)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 2 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 5 April (Palm Sunday)
The Barriers to Joy (Luke 15:25-31)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 9 at 1:10PM.)

12 April Easter Sunday
The End of Decay (John 20:24-29)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 16 at 1:10PM.)
In case you were wondering, I haven't read Dr Tim Keller's The Prodigal God. But I am planning to buy it tomorrow. And if it is as good as I suspect it will be, then we will make it available for our people to buy, read, and give to their friends during Lent.

In the meantime, here is a sobering prayer to pray through Lent:
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Not bad, right?

Bring your friends if you live or work close the city. And I'll see if we can get the MP3s working properly.



dave miers said...

sounds like a great series.

i don't know much about the church calendars - probably wary of them for some of the reasons you said at the beginning - but i really like the way you described advent and lent... simple... and good!

preach it brother.

you recording them?

Dave Miers said...

ps - there are a bunch of typos throughout your post... probably most important one is 'prodical' in the title.


Justin said...

Hopefully, we will record them.

Thanks for the Typo. If you see any other glaring ones, let me know. Its late here...


Heather said...

One of the missing words is in the collect:
" forgive the sins of THOSE that are penitent..."

Ian Carmichael said...

Hi Justin

For that first sermon on 1 March, check out Zeph 3:17. I wonder whether Jesus had this verse in his mind when he told these parables? It's a great verse.


Sally said...

I was very excited to read your post (if emotions such as that are allowed in Lent!). Having spent ages arguing with one of our mutual friends about why I (as a GenY-er) think that Lent (and the Christian year in general) could be helpful in reaffirming the doctrines we all love, and he (as a cynical GenX-er) didn't get it, I shall throw your comments in his face and see what he says!

Sally Hitchiner said...

Celebrating the Christian year also helps us:
1. remember the historicity of our faith - we celebrate Christmas and Easter on different days because they happened on different days.
2. Although I wouldn't hold to this in everything, I like the spirit behind the simple faith that says "Jesus fasted for 40 days so we should": it's not a perfect rule of life but you could do a lot worse.
3. It was designed to keep us Orthodox and nomatter how liberal parts of my church gets if we keep the Christian liturgical year, we're always going to think about key doctrines.
I know myself (and my tradition) well enough to know that we need this too. The Christian year helps all of us avoid being overly reactive in what we teach on or only focussing on the parts of doctrine that we like. I came across a quote that puts this much better than I could.

"The events of the Christian year "function as a sequence of well-aimed hammerblows which knock at the clay jars of the gods we want, the gods who reinforce our own pride and prejudice, until they fall away and reveal instead a very different god, a dangerous god, a subversive god, a god who comes to us like a blind beggar with wounds in his hands, a god who comes to us in wind and fire, in bread and wine, in flesh and blood: a god who says to us, 'You did not choose me; I chose you.'“ (NT Wright preaching in Litchfield Cathedral)