New Sermon Series:
Lent: A Season of Release


by Barry Parker, Rector

Posted on February 18, 2015

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is an ancient and practical 40 day/five week period of spiritual preparation for the great celebration of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection at Eastertide. This season points us to the implications of these remarkable and history-altering events. Lent focuses us on the life of faith through almsgiving, prayer, Bible study and fasting – along with repentance of sin and wrongdoing.

For Lent 2015, we are applying these ancient practices in a contemporary, relevant way. We seek to highlight pertinent issues and then challenge ourselves to engage them with actions that make a difference. We will consider this Lent as a Season of Release, release from and release for. Why is this important?

Jesus, quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, said God has sent him to “proclaim that captives will be released…” (Luke 4:18). What does this captivity and freedom look like?

Week 1:  Release from the oppression of guilt and shame

Many of us labour under a cloud of guilt and shame. What is the connection? Why are we preoccupied with self-reproach? What does release look like?

Action: The Release of Prayer – Seek to commit at least 15 minutes of your day to prayer, meditating on and trusting in God’s grace and forgiveness.

Week 2: Release from the control of anger and bitterness

We carry burdens of anger and frustration. Often resentful and frustrated, we are prone to carry this life-crushing weight. What would life be like if we and others could let go of any deep grievance and bitterness?

Action: The Release of Fasting – Commit to fast or forego as a way to redirect your focus onto God. Identify something in your life that is controlling you (i.e. alcohol, food portions, social media, etc.) and abstain from it.

Week 3: Release from the tyranny of wealth

Money, wealth and our possessions have the inevitable effect of turning the tables. Our quest for more, often results in our possessions owning us. How much is enough is a question never answered. How do we get out from under that domination?

Action: The Release of Almsgiving – Forego spending on non-essential items (e.g. movies, coffee, dining out, etc.) and donate what you would typically spend on these items to our Outreach ministries.

Week 4: Release for the gift of ministry

Jesus releases us for good things, such as serving ministry and blessing others. What might this look like?

Action: The Release for Service – Volunteer for one of St. Paul’s ministries (i.e. Children’s Ministry, worship participation, ESL Café, after school Snack Program etc.). Step out for others, even once.

Week 5: Release for living

There is so much that can burden us in our day-to-day lives. What if we were released to see that our lives have meaning, hope and purpose in realistic and relevant ways?

Action: The Release for Community – Join a Small Group which provide the opportunity to build relationships and connect with others in a meaningful way.

 

Lent can be a transformative season. Together at St. Paul’s, let’s commit to be released from the things that fracture life and allow ourselves to be released for the experiences that build life. Join us for the five Sundays of Lent as we unpack both biblically and practically what personal freedom really looks like.