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Tag Archives: Easter

Pancakes, Lent and Jesus

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* A seasonal re-post *

Fat Tuesday” is the day before “Ash Wednesday” which marks a 40 day countdown to Easter Weekend. Got all that? Probably not, unless you were either raised in a liturgical Church or you live in countries where Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday are a big deal.

In Australia this hasn’t been the case so much until recently. Retailers can seize upon as a commercial opportunity and some Church and Community groups use it as a chance to connect and serve their members.

For many Christians, particularly the Catholic, Eastern and Liturgical groups, Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent. A period of sacrifice, penance or fasting in the lead up to the annual observance of Jesus death and resurrection.

Lent is a transliteration of a term with Germanic and Latin roots that means “lengthen” and was synonymous with the Spring season, as in, ‘the days begin to lengthen in Spring’. Thus the name, Lent. That’s all well and good if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, if not, it’s just a weird word.

What lent has come to mean and is now practiced all over the world, is a period of sacrifice or partial fasting. Sanctified weight loss programs exploit the vulnerable, as do anti-cigarette campaigners, alcohol prohibitionists seize the opportunity to get people to quit drinking and all manner of well meaning propaganda finds it’s way into our life. One year a Church leader tried the same angle with iPods. A friend of mine is doing a similar “fast” from Facebook and other social media. I might join him.

Just like Chicken Soup, there’s little harm from abstinence of a few luxuries. Take a break from your iPod if you must, leave off the chocolate and lose a kilo or a belt notch. So long as you beware the trap in thinking that your abstinence somehow makes you closer to God, more loveable to God, or more worthy of his forgiveness, grace and goodness.

Nothing less than Jesus can save you, give you God’s forgiveness and assurance that your heavenly Father loves you enough to send his unique Son to die in the place of sinners. Once Lent is over and Christians celebrate Easter Sunday, it’s not because they get to eat chocolate again. It is because Jesus has put an end to Satan, sin and death and is our sovereign and almighty Lord.

If staying off Facebook or your iPod helps you make that clear to your friends, please go ahead. I wonder though, if you’re not giving up anything for Lent, for whatever reason, how do you view those that do?

 

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Pancakes, Lent and Jesus

6898634122_e6747c9292_nFat Tuesday” is the day before “Ash Wednesday” which marks a 40 day countdown to Easter Weekend. Got all that? Probably not, unless you were either raised in a liturgical Church or you live in countries where Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday are a big deal. In Australia this hasn’t been the case so much until recently. Retailers can seize upon as a commercial opportunity and some Church and Community groups use it as a chance to connect and serve their members.

For many Christians, particularly the Catholic, Eastern and Liturgical groups, Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent. A period of sacrifice, penance or fasting in the lead up to the annual observance of Jesus death and resurrection.

Lent is a transliteration of a term with Germanic and Latin roots that means “lengthen” and was synonymous with the Spring season, as in, ‘the days begin to lengthen in Spring’. Thus the name, Lent. That’s all well and good if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, if not, it’s just nonsense! What it has come to mean and is now practiced all over the world, is a period of sacrifice or partial fasting.

Sanctified weight loss programs exploit the vulnerable, as do anti-cigarette campaigners, alcohol prohibitionists seize the opportunity to get people to quit drinking and all manner of well meaning propaganda finds it’s way into our life. One year a Church leader tried the same angle with iPods. A friend of mine did a similar “fast” from Facebook.

Just like Chicken Soup, there’s little harm from abstinence of a few luxuries. Take a break from your iPod if you must, leave off the chocolate and lose a kilo or a belt notch. So long as you beware the trap in thinking that your abstinence somehow makes you closer to God, more loveable to God, or more worthy of his forgiveness, grace and goodness. Nothing less than Jesus can save you, give you God’s forgiveness and assurance that your heavenly Father loves you enough to send his unique Son to die in the place of sinners.

Once Lent is over and Christians celebrate Easter Sunday, it’s not because they get to eat chocolate again. It is because Jesus has put an end to Satan, sin and death and is our sovereign and almighty Lord. If staying off Facebook or your iPod helps you make that clear to your friends, please go ahead. I wonder though, if you’re not giving up anything for Lent, for whatever reason, how do you view those that do?

 
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Posted by on 11/02/2013 in Culture, discipleship

 

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Out of the mouth of babes

Psalm 8:2, (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:16) says

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. ~ (King James Version)

The other day I had a conversation with some Youth Leaders about how much Bible content kids should know after 6 or 7 years of weekly Sunday School lessons. I jokingly said that my 6yro daughter would know more than most 12yro. Now, this was partly a joke and partly a little fatherly boast. However, last night, my daughter surprised me with an acrostic poem she wrote for a school project. It is a Christmas project and she has been a bit nervous about writing the poem as she struggled, at first, with the concept of an acrostic. So we talked about that and I gave a simple example using “Mum” as the inspiration:

Marvellous
Understanding
Mum

Thinking she would do something similar with “Christmas”, i.e. one word per line. I left it at that. This is what she came up with. I’ve typed it out so you can read it as the colours in the photo don’t show up too well. I haven’t modified the content (just spelling for legibility). It’s all her own work. There was no coaching or consultation. This is just the product of her processing what she has heard from us as parents and her Sunday School teachers and School teachers. Which is interesting, particularly on the subject of hell. As, at the risk of incurring the wrath of my fellow Sydney Evangelical tribesmen, this isn’t something we’ve spent much, if any, time on in our discussions with her about spiritual things. Anyway, that discussion for another time. Here’s the acrostic. What would your kids write?

Christmas is the time of year that Jesus has his birthday
He has lots of celebrations, like Christmas, Easter and when he was born
Right around the world, people don’t know about Jesus or God
I believe in God and Jesus and you. Most of the people in Australia love God and Jesus now and then
So if you love Jesus and God and trust God you will be a Christian and you will go to heaven and have all again another life and you don’t you will go to hell
Trust God, love God and if you do, you are a Christian
Merry, merry Christmas to all of you
A Christmas is a birthday party for Jesus
Say a prayer before dinner and breakfast.

 
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Posted by on 26/10/2012 in church, Culture, discipleship, Family

 

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Only 348 days until Christmas

Better start making your lists and checking them twice if you want to get in before the rush starts!

No? Well there’s always Easter – crossed buns are already for sale at most supermarkets and bakeries. And if you can’t wait that long, there’s always Chinese New Year which kicks off a 2 week festival in only 12 days!

These festivals, regardless of your level of excitement about their approach are the way that we mark time. Our calendars, work cycles, school year and family get together’s revolve around key dates in the year when we consider it important to spend time together for whatever reason.

For us, it might simply be a case of a long weekend and a bit of a breather or an excuse to go to the beach or snow for a quick getaway. For others it is a major time to celebrate and instil traditions that will carry over to future generations.

In Israel, life revolved around the harvest year. This is connected back to the promise God made to Noah when he came off the ark:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~ Genesis 8:22

While Israel was being prepared to enter the promised land, this cycle was expanded to 7 festivals or celebrations that measured time on a weekly and annual basis. The 7 festivals are summarised in Leviticus 23.

The cycle begins with the weekly Sabbath and follows through with the grain harvest feasts of Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost. These are followed later in the year by the festivals of Trumpets, Atonement and Booths in the later half of the year.

The festivals involved eating and drinking. We are reminded that the Son of Man came eating and drinking (Matt 11:18-19, Luke 7:33-35) and each of these not only point us to Jesus, but call us to celebrate God’s work of redemption. When we observe communion today, with bread and wine (eating and drinking!) we are celebrating Christ and anticipating the feast at the end of history (1 Cor 5:6-8, 11:23-26, Rev 19:9).

This Sunday at Kogarah I will teach on the 7 festivals in more detail, focusing on how God marks time in fulfilling his covenant promise.

 

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So many public holidays

This is an extra long weekend in Australia due to ANZAC Day falling immediately after Easter Sunday and the long Aussie tradition of having an extra day off after Easter. This means both Monday and Tuesday have been declared in most States and Territories as Public Holidays.

Do we need more time off? Phillip Jensen makes some comments on the value of public holidays and tolerance and how they mark our identity as Australians:

Christian nations do not seek to impose Christianity upon people by force of arms. We welcome strangers and protect people of different beliefs, cultures and practices. We have developed what is called tolerance. By which we mean “a willingness to allow things that we do not necessarily agree with or even like without interference”. Tolerance does not mean relativism – “the acceptance that all views are equally valid” – nor does it mean abandonment of your own position in favour of others. Rather it is the refusal to impose your beliefs on other people as necessary for membership in society.

It is part of our tolerant society that not everybody has to observe or like public holidays. We are not dragooned out for compulsory celebrations. People can stay in bed or go fishing. They can even complain about it. Not everybody likes to celebrate our involvement in war on Anzac day, nor the European invasion on Australia day. But these events were foundational to who we are as a nation. In the same way there are Australians who do not like Christianity, but celebrating Easter and Christmas is an appropriate and Australian way to commemorate the foundational role that Christianity plays in our culture and nation.

 
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Posted by on 26/04/2011 in Culture, history

 

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Greater Things still to be done

What are you waiting for?

 
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Posted by on 24/04/2011 in Jesus

 

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