Friday, March 01, 2019

Lenten Exodus

Dear Friends in Christ,

After a longer than usual Epiphany season, Lent is almost upon us. Once again we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem and to His suffering and death on the cross. It is a sad journey because we feel the weight of our sins which caused Jesus to be crucified. Yet the ending is a happy one as Jesus finishes His work for our redemption on Good Friday and rises victorious from the grave on Easter.

The book of Exodus chronicles the journey of God's Old Testament people out of slavery in Egypt as they start on their way to the land God has promised them. This year's Lenten series of sermons explores some of the traditional themes of Lent through the journey of the children of Israel. We will see sin revealed in the lives of God's people, from lack of trust in God (the water at the rock,) to brazen idolatry (the golden calf). We will see God choosing for them a savior (small "s") in Moses, who will lead His people out of their slavery in Egypt. We will see God at work bringing His people to repentance and showing them mercy and forgiveness. We will see His glorious salvation as He brings His people through the Red Sea on dry land. We will experience the joyful "resurrection" of God's people as they stand on the other side of the Red Sea, with their enemies drowned in the water, never to oppress them again.

In all of these events, the picture of Jesus as our Savior from sin comes clearly into focus. Moses, the deliverer, is a picture of Jesus who rescues us from slavery to sin and death. The rock which is struck to provide water for the children of Israel in the desert is a picture of Jesus, who was "stricken, smitten, and afflicted" for us to provide us with eternal life which now is given to us through the waters of Baptism. The crossing of the Red Sea also recalls our Baptism, as our Old Adam is drowned and we emerge from the water with new life. The unblemished lambs sacrificed for the Israelites in the Passover event bring us face to face with Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, whose blood spares us from death. Finally, on Easter we stand on the other side of the tomb, seeing our great enemies--sin, death, and the devil--defeated by Jesus-through His death and resurrection, never to oppress us again.

I want to take this space to encourage all of you to join us not only for weekly worship on Sundays during Lent, but for our midweek and Holy Week services as well. The life of the church is inseparably connected with the life of Jesus. In Lent we deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him, through suffering and death to resurrection and life. The Lenten liturgical themes of cross and suffering, repentance and forgiveness, are part of our daily lives as God's people. Our Lenten journey with Jesus leads us to a deeper trust in Him as our Savior from sin and a joyful confidence in our own resurrection with Him to eternal life.

Midweek services begin with the Ash Wednesday communion service on March 6, and continue on Wednesday nights during Lent at 7 p.m. The full schedule is printed elsewhere in this newsletter. We will once again be sharing Lenten services with our brothers and sisters at St. Paul and Immanuel. All midweek services will be here at St. John. Please see the schedule for dates and times of Holy Week Services.

God bless you as you prepare to begin your Lenten journey with Jesus!

Peace to you in Christ,
Pastor Merrill

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