|Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
The Lent Season begins on Ash Wednesday, which is March 5th this year.
Lent is traditionally a time or mourning and repentance over our sins, and corresponds to the 40 days our Lord spend fasting in the desert (excluding Sundays, which are looked upon as mini-Easters, as this was the day our Lord rose from the grave).
Not only do we say good-bye to singing or saying "Alleluia" during this time – Christians often give up things during this season as a way to identify themselves with this season of fasting and penance.
For a number of years, Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info has been analyzing people's "Tweets" on Twitter in order to take a snapshot of what people say they are giving up for Lent. Each year, the list is a mix of the sincere and sarcastic, the earnest and the anti-religious. But each year, it results in a fascinating look at American spirituality.
At the time of this writing, Smith has yet to publish this year's list. It's interesting, however, to look at previous years' lists.
Smith lists the top ten 2013 Tweets of what people were giving up for Lent as follows: 1) Being pope (due to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI); 2) Swearing, 3) Soda 4) Social Networking, 5) Alcohol, 6) Chips, 7) Virginity, 8) Marijuana, 9) Fast food, and 10) Instagram.
In a similar compilation of Tweets, the top ten most popular things that people planned to give up for Lent in 2012 were as follows: 1. Twitter, 2) Chocolate, 3) Swearing, 4) Alcohol, 5) Pop, 6) Facebook, 7) Fast Food, 8) Sex, 9) Sweets, and 10) Meat.
And Smith's list from 2011 consisted of the following top ten Lenten Sacrifices: 1) Twitter, 2) Facebook, 3) Chocolate, 4) Swearing, 5) Alcohol, 6) Sex, 7) Soda, 8) Lent, 9) Meat, and 10) Fast Food.
There's no biblical mandate for giving up things for Lent. However, with the right motive, giving up things up for Lent can serve to highlight the solemnity of this season in contrast to the joys of Easter. What a relief to know we don't have to do things to earn God's favor! What comfort to know that Christ has fulfilled the Law for us in our place, and through His sacrificial death on the cross, exchanged his righteousness with our unrighteousness!
That being said, there is something God would have you offer up to Him this Lent Season as well as outside of the Lenten Season, and that is a broken heart that is repentant over the sins in your life. As David writes in his penitential Psalm: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
As a little boy brings a broken toy to his earthly father, pleading, "Fix, it, Daddy! Fix, it!" So, we offer up our broken hearts to our Heavenly Father, pleading for his healing in our lives. And through the shed blood of Jesus, the healing balm of forgiveness is applied to our hearts and we are healed! Whenever that happens, the Joy of our Salvation is restored!
May this Lenten Season serve to remind you of the greatest sacrifice of all, when the Lamb of God willingly offered up His life, that you may be healed! May the Joy of Your Salvation be restored both now and forever!
Because He Lives!
This year's Mid-Week Lenten Series Theme is "Our New Creation in Christ" which will focus on how the Six Days of creation correlate with our new creation in Christ. Our focus for the Wednesdays in Lent will be as follows: Day 1: "Salvation Ex Nihilo" (March 5th-Ash Wednesday), Day 2: "Dividing Law and Gospel" (March 12th), Day 3: "Bearing fruit" (March 19th), Day 4: "Reflecting God's Light" (March 26th), Day 5: "Re-created for a Purpose" (April 2nd), Day 6: "Conformed to the Image of Christ". Join us each Wednesday during the Lenten Season! Worship starts at 7:00 p.m., preceeded by a Soup Supper at 6:00 p.m.
A good portion of our members have taken the time to pray over and fill out the pledge forms for this year. These pledges are taken from the Lutheran Service Agenda and that we have used in some of our services at Messiah. They include the support of our church in general, the support of the pastoral office, the support of our congregational offices, the support of our Sunday School Teachers and other Instructors in the Faith, the Support of our Lutheran School Teachers, the Spiritual Care of Messiah's Young People, and the Support of the Marriages of Messiah. If you have yet to fill this form out, I invite you to consider doing so during this Lenten Season. May God bless Messiah, as our members faithfully carry out these pledges with the help of the Holy Spirit!
Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, our synod's president, has made it an annual practice to invite people to daily pray the Litany along with him during the Season of Lent (http://video.lcms.org/archives/2040).
The Litany can be found on p. 288-289 in the Lutheran Service Book. Copies can be found in the Narthex for you to use this Lenten Season.
How to pray the Litany:
This prayer is called "litany", based upon the English form of the Latin word "litania" which is the Latin form of the Greek word "litaneia", which means "supplication". The word supplication comes from the Latin sub (under or below) and plicare (to bend) – to bend, or bow, before God and ask him for our spiritual and physical needs.
The Litany dates back to at least the fourth century A.D. Martin Luther regarded the Litany, as, "next to the holy Lord's Prayer the very best that has come to earth". It is because of the care and attention Luther directed towards the Litany that the Lutheran church continues to use it to this day.
The Litany can be used individually or in group prayer. The Litany combines a mood of adoration with a penitential tone. It basis its request for mercy in the saving work of Jesus Christ and while including the needs of the individual, it focuses on praying for the needs of others. As Liturgical scholar Luther Reed describes, "The Litany is a responsive prayer of the church, penitential in character but unselfish in its intercessions for all human need and mighty in the grasp of the grounds for divine compassion".
In 1925 the top ten popular names for baby boys were as follows: 1) Robert, 2) John, 3) William, 4) James, 5) Charles, 6) George, 7) Joseph, 8) Richard, 9) Edward, and 10) Donald. The most popular names for baby girls that year were: 1) Mary, 2) Dorothy, 3) Betty, 4) Helen, 5) Margaret, 6) Ruth, 7) Virginia, 8) Doris, 9) Mildred, and 10) Elizabeth.
That same year a new church was formed on February 8th, and was given the name "Messiah", meaning "Anointed One", indicating that the Good News of the promised Savior would be proclaimed in all its truth and purity in all its worship services and activities! For over 89 years, we continue as the members of Messiah to proclaim that Jesus is the true Messiah, the Savior of the Nations!
Won't you consider being a part of our anniversary committee, as we celebrate our past, seek to be faithful in the present, as well as look forward to the future? And pray that by God's grace we will continue to live up our name of "Messiah", by making the Savior known in meaningful and effective ways to others!
Copyright © 2014 Messiah Lutheran Church All Rights Reserved