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Like creation itself, the church has historically observed the passage of time through various sacred seasons called the Church Year. God, after all, established an order for the passage of time by creating a pattern for days, weeks, seasons and years. This patterned order of time has also been observed by various rituals among people over the centuries as well. Some rituals are daily like meals, work, prayer and rest. Others are weekly like worship, sporting events or weekends off. And still, others are yearly such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

It is clear in the Bible that God desires his people observe the passage of our limited time within the context of Jesus’ saving work through time. This is evident in how God commanded Ancient Israel to observe daily temple worship, weekly Sabbath rest and annual sacred festivals. Observances such as these helped the people of Israel understand their daily lives in light of the eternal significance of God’s creative and saving acts in time.

Historically, the church continued to observe the passage of time through the seasons of the Church Year which helps us to view our daily lives constantly in light of God’s most powerful saving act of all; namely, the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and return of Jesus the Savior. This annual pattern highlights for us the continual proclamation of the saving work of Jesus for all people and includes seasons that begin with Advent and continue through Christmas, Lent, Easter and more.

The purpose of the Church Year is intended to help us highlight the life of Jesus, His past and future work, along with His current work in the life of the church. Nothing is more important to the life of the church than the life of Jesus. The historic practice of following the Church Year testifies that the historical events in Jesus’ life continue to proclaim His saving work for us today!

Just as Jesus turned His face toward Jerusalem in anticipation of His suffering, death and resurrection, so too, the season of Lent is a time in our yearly observances that turns our hearts and minds toward the stories of Jesus suffering for sinners sake. We hear the words of Scripture ring true, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8) For forty days the humble prayers and personal sacrifices of Lent testifies to not only the serious condition of our sin and great need for repentance, but also proclaims the work of Jesus, especially His passive obedience “to death, even death on a cross,” as the source of forgiveness offered to people today (Philippians 2:8). During Lent we are lead on a journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23:4) that culminates on Good Friday with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for sin on Calvary’s cross. Lent, and Good Friday then, cause us to await with anticipation Jesus’ ultimate victory in the resurrection-life of Easter morning!

This Lent, Holy Cross will offer additional worship servidces on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM with a fellowship meal at 6. These services are intended to assist the Arlington community with the opportunity to add additional reflection and prayer as we journey to the cross of Jesus. While never required, it is customary for people to "give something up" during Lent as a means to let go of our worldly focuses and turn our gaze more directly and intentionally towards the Savior. Joining us for a meal and worship is a fantastic way to "give up" some of your daily routine and take time out to focus on Jesus. Conversely, instead of giving someting up, some Christians prefer the idea of adding more to their daily routine during Lent. More prayer. More service. More time with family. Uniquly enough, Lenten midweek services and fellowhsip meals acomplish that goal as well!

Whatever your pattered observance of the season of Lent envolves, my prayer is that it would always be centred on the Cross of Jesus. The Messiah who became one of us as a substitute, to sacrifice Himself for our sins and then rose in victory over sin, death and the devil, three days later.

In Him,

Pastor Luke