The Pastor’s Pen: March 17, 2019

Today is the second Sunday of Lent and the 21st anniversary of our joyous march into our brand-new glorious sanctuary. On that day 21 years ago, news media lined up along Ninth Street, and sent instant footage back to their studios of our march into the sanctuary. We marched around the church and ended up at the front steps of our doors, where we cut the ribbon and joyously processed into this great worship space given to us by God. We marched to the strains of, “He has done marvelous things.” We sang it over and over until the entire congregation rose to a peak of high spirituality. Joy and laughter and tears of gratitude filled our church. That was 21 years ago. Every year since, we have marched and presented our gifts to eradicate the debt on our church. This year we continue that tradition at our 7:45 and 10:55 a.m. worship services to show our appreciation for the great gift that God has given to us.

But, our march and praise for the gift of our sanctuary stands in the shadow of our gratitude for the sacrifice of our Savior who gave His life in death and resurrected so that we may have a right to the Tree of Life. During this Lenten season, we have adopted the theme, “A Season of Commitment and Sacrifice.” As we march today, we focus on this greater commitment of presenting our lives to God with our time, our talents and our treasures.

Our Lenten meditation last Wednesday focused on the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness prior to His public ministry (Luke 4:1-13). The 40 days of Lent is based on Jesus’ 40-day fast after His baptism. After the fast came the temptation. In life, blessings are always accompanied by challenges. Fasting is a sacrifice; however, sacrifice is only effective when it is accompanied by commitment. Jesus’ first commitment was to the spiritual, not just the physical. Satan tempted Him physically by challenging Him to turn the stones into bread. Jesus said, “…Man shall not live by bread alone…” (Matthew 4:4).  Satan then took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and told him to jump. Jesus responded, “We must not tempt God” (Matthew 4:5-7). Finally, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world which He could have if He worshipped him. Jesus responded, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him only” (Matthew 4:8-9).

On this 21st observance of our entrance into our sanctuary, we couple our Lenten theme with the presentation of our gifts. We will observe a season of sacrifice and commitment by presenting more than just our dollars, but our time,  our talent and our treasures to the one true and living God. AMEN.