By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26. This means Easter is celebrated on April 12 this year. In order to get to Easter we must pass through the season of Lent which addresses our need for spiritual discipline.
The discipline involved in Christian spiritual formation begins by looking outside, not inside, ourselves. A long tradition that began in classical Roman Catholicism and has continued to be popular with many Protestants assumes that spiritual renewal begins by looking deep within our own souls and our private religious experience. Behind this assumption is the belief of the ancient Greeks that the human soul is a “little piece of divinity” in us, in hopes of encouraging us to get in touch with ourselves at the deepest level. If we want to recognize and experience God’s presence of God’s life-renewing Spirit in us, we must be willing first to look away from ourselves, outside ourselves, beyond our personal experiences.
This Lenten season I invite you to join me and others on a spiritual journey that will change the way you look at Jesus. For 6 weeks following Ash Wednesday we’ll look at the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life. The journey is called 24 Hours That Changed the World, by Adam Hamilton. Jesus is believed to have died between the age of 35-40. Most of the Gospel writers focus on the last three years of his life. Our primary interest in this Bible study will be on his last 24 hours. Our study will examine what happened on Thursday evening after sunset and end at the close of his life on Friday afternoon. During that time we’ll see Jesus eat the Last Supper with his disciples; pray in the garden of Gethsemane; be betrayed and deserted by his friends; be convicted of religious blasphemy; be tried and sentenced for insurrection by Pontius Pilate; be tortured by Roman soldiers; and finally, focus on his crucifixion, death and burial.
The aim of this study is to help you better understand the events that occurred during the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life, see more clearly the theological significance of Christ’s suffering and death, and reflect on the meaning of those events on your life. To do this we will look at the geographical and historical settings of the events; we’ll reflect theologically on the meaning of these events and Jesus’ death; and finally we’ll examine ourselves in light of the story, considering how we’re like Pilate, Peter, Judas, John, Mary and Martha.
Our class will meet Sundays at 9:30 a.m., Mondays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. The study DVD is provided by Adam Hamilton and study books are available in paperback ($10) and Kindle (<$8). Simply ask me for your print copy. Remember, the Spirit is the Spirit of God that cares about each of us. This Spirit has the power to renew your faith and deepen your understanding of God’s work through salvation. This Lenten study will help us focus outside ourselves, give up our self-centered preoccupation, and soften toward the world, and others, who are also on a spiritual journey, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Let’s begin together our journey through the last 24 hours of Jesus life. See you at any of our three class offerings, as we take the first step.
Grace and Peace during this Lenten season of preparation.