Tuesday, September 18, 2018


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The Rev Andries Combrink is a Presbyterian Minister of the Gospel. He lives in Centurion, South Africa.  He is amongst others a blogger and lyrics writer. To teach the Word of God is his calling,  based on the Reformed tradition. 

 

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John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you continue in
My word, you really are My disciples.
You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free."

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Feb 14

Written by: Andries
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 9:40:20 PM  RssIcon

“Remembrance” is key to Biblical worship.
To remember what Jesus did for our salvation is therefore the benchmark of a Biblical celebration of the Lenten Season, Holy Week and Easter.
 
Remembering is rooted in Old Testament worship.
Devotional life in the Old Testament was based on “remembering” the great deeds of salvation and liberation by the God of Israel. Each one of the feasts prescribed in the Law, remembered, celebrated and taught what God did in the history of his people, creating and strengthening the belief that he will continue to keep his grace covenant and be their God and the God of their children, encouraging them to, as the people of God, seek obedience to the Lord.
 
It was at such a feast of remembrance, the Passover, that Jesus instituted his Holy Supper. In the mind of Jesus faith would still be sown and grown through “remembering” as part of the New Covenant. Christ’s church is established when we remember what Jesus has done to make us his own.
Jesus gave us the key to Christian worship when he said:  Do this in remembrance of me!
 
Remembering is rooted in the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is irreplaceable and unique. But it does refer us to the principle that remembering God’s gospel events has great value. Christian worship and fellowship is defined by doing it in remembrance of Jesus, our Lord to the glory of God, our Father.
 
Systematically proclaiming the Scriptures during days and seasons of remembrance and faithfully preaching what the Bible tells us about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus is a disciplined and structured way of teaching and preaching the full council of God.
 
The Days of Remembrance that we observe are also rooted in Church History.
All the commemorative days on the Christian calendar go back a long way before the Reformation. Only with the Word of God as our foundation and our Confessions of Faith as guidelines, it becomes easy to discern which celebrations would be God honouring and build up the people of God.
 
Remembrance”, the key to understanding worship, should also be the key to unlocking a reformed, protestant identity when celebrating these commemorative days and seasons.
 
Ash Wednesday.
In the Western Christian Calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent for the last 1 300 years. It occurs forty days before Easter, not counting Sundays, which as the first day of the week, always remains a day of the celebration of the risen Lord
 
Historic Background of the Lenten and Resurrection Seasons.
Resurrection Sunday (more often called Easter Sunday) is the oldest commemorative day in Christianity. It was observed since the first century as a result of the influence of the Jewish Passover. It is the result of the first Christians, from the very beginning of the church, celebrating the resurrection every week on the Lord’s Day, by celebrating the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of him.
 
During the second century it became customary to baptise all converts on Resurrection Sunday. They had to be prepared for the public confession of their faith and these preparations lasted 40 days – not counting Sundays.
It relates to the fact that Jesus was prepared for 40 days in the desert before his ministry started.
 
They were taught the gospel truth with discipline, fasting and prayer playing an important role during this time. After some time, other Church members felt the need to do it again, even after their baptisms. This season very early on became the Lenten Season of the Church, meant as a preparation for a joyful celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
 
As a result other gospel events such as the suffering and death of Jesus,  Palm Sunday, Ascension and Pentecost followed and claimed their place in the Christian calendar.
 
The Resurrection of Jesus is the culmination, the peak,  of the Christian Calendar.
The shortest version of the gospel truth is to say that Jesus has risen – that he has risen indeed.  Our Reformed / Presbyterian tradition emphasises that all worship, including the Lord’s Supper, is fellowship with the living Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
 
Should Christians observe Lent and Easter?
It is a good tradition if we steer clear of legalistic prescriptions and inflexible observances of culturally based customs, particularly those that encourage ritualistic worship with ideas strange to the simple gospel of salvation.
 
It is a good practice if we rely only on the Word to reveal the gospel truth, if we preach Christ, the crucified, risen Saviour and if we are careful to require nothing more from worshippers than to rely on and celebrate God’s sovereign grace, when we observe these age old commemorative days and seasons.
 
It is good ministry if it grows the faith of the believers where they celebrate the wonders of salvation given to us in and through Jesus Christ.
 
The holy days and seasons edify the believers when we celebrate these days and seasons according to the Gospel, guided by God’s Word and directed by our Confessions and Creeds and is celebrated to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
How do I participate?
We participate by ensuring that we celebrate and remember when the church of the Lord meets for public worship during these various days and seasons of remembrance.
 
We also participate when our private devotions reflect on what these gospel events teach us and what message the Lord personally has for us.
 
Discipline is the key word, the Greek word Paul uses for "Godliness", and indicates moderation, frugality, charity, meditation, prayer, and study. Godliness is a lifestyle promoted by Lent that draws us closer to God and to seek to live holy lives because we are grateful for the grace and mercy of God.
 
Lenten additions include, amongst others,
- coming closer to God through times of focussed prayer, reflection and worship;
- touching others through charity and kindness.
 
What do protestant Christians emphasise during the Lenten season?
There are two important aspects:
* Penitence: We realise our own brokenness and our need for Christ. God’s commandments become our teacher that drives us to Christ for forgiveness with a thirst for sanctification.
* Preparation: We strive to open our hearts wider for remembering Christ’s suffering and death and the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
 
During Lent people add to, or subtract, from their daily routines in order to draw closer to God.
Preaching, prayer, Bible study and contemplating the gospel are key to observing Lent.  Coming to Church and sharing with the faithful in our community will teach us to be disciplined in worship.
Seeking justice in the world by giving and volunteering for charity and promoting causes for justice, while reaching out to those who do not know the Lord Jesus as Saviour and God as their Father form part of the Lenten Season.
 
There must be no legalism about any of this. We are not trying to impress God. We're trying to prepare our hearts. Observing Lent in the ways discussed here is no “legal” obligation!
It is not a Biblical requirement!
It is a good custom that helped many Christians over many centuries to, in fellowship with their fellow Christians, seek a closer walk with the Lord that lasts during all seasons!
 
Lent is an opportunity rather than a burden and I pray that yours will be meaningful!
  

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