Lent is the Christian season of spiritual preparation before Easter. In Western churches, it begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22. During Lent, many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline. The purpose of the Lenten season is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—to consider his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays). This 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him.
In many congregations, the ashes are prepared by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. On that Palm Sunday, churches bless and hand out palm branches to attendees, referencing to the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the onlookers lay palm branches on his path.
In Ash Wednesday services, a person goes forward to receive a mark on their forehead with these ashes. When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy.
With this focus on our own mortality and sinfulness, Christians can enter into the Lent season solemnly while also looking forward in greater anticipation and joy to the message of Easter and Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death.
What Is Salvation? (Part One)
In 1782, Wesley wrote that some years before, four factories for spinning and weaving had been set up in the town of Epworth. Employed in these factories were many young men and women, even boys and girls. As Wesley describes their manner, “The whole conversations of these was profane and loose to the last degree.” Wesley notes, however, that a few of these workers stumbled into one of his prayer meetings and “were suddenly cut to the heart.” They immediately went out to gather their companions and bring them to the prayer meeting. After this, “The whole scene was changed. In three of the factories, no more lewdness or profaneness was found, for God had put a new song in their mouth, and blasphemies were turned to praise. Those three I visited today, and I found that religion had taken deep root in them. No trifling word was heard among them, and they watch over each other in love. I found it exceedingly good to be there, and we rejoiced together in the God of our salvation.”
From a Wesleyan perspective, we would say that these young people were being saved. The terms saved and salvation sometimes bring with them an amount of baggage, so it’s important to understand what Wesleyans mean when we use them. Sometimes Christians use the term salvation to mean that basically a person is saved from God’s wrath. The idea goes like this: God cannot be in the presence of sin, and all human beings are guilty of sin. The price of sin is eternal punishment, but God, by becoming human in Jesus Christ and dying on the cross, has paid the necessary price for our sin. By putting our faith in Jesus Christ, we can receive the salvation that God has worked out for us on the cross. In essence, then, salvation means that a person has secured a place eternally with God and avoided the punishment of sinners in hell.
A Wesleyan understanding of salvation, however, is far more complex than this, and far richer as well. Eternal life with God is clearly part of salvation, but that is the final stage of salvation, which is called glorification. Wesley’s sermon “The Scripture Way of Salvation,” which is possibly his most influential, is of great help to us in understanding the ways in which he thought about salvation. He says in this sermon that salvation is not simply “the soul’s going to paradise,” not simply “a blessing which lies on the other side of death.” He goes on, “It is not something at a distance: it is a present thing, a blessing which, through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of.” In essence, salvation, for Wesley, is “the entire work of God,” from the first stirring in our souls telling us that we need God to our receiving of eternal life.
I think this is enough for us to ponder this month. Next month we’ll continue to unpack our way of understanding salvation.
I pray that you may come to understand and believe more and more with each passing day, just how special and loved by God you are! Peace be with you, Buster
02 Kolt Kraft
07 Nicole Hackett
08 John Hackett
11 Billy Wright (III)
12 Christina Stenger
13 Christopher Kelsey Lynn Digby
14 John Vanbuskirk
15 Sausley Kraft
16 Darolyn Woolworth
17 Alton Taylor
19 Kay Trietsch
22 Fred Hodge
14 Jacob and Tiffany Cooper
26 Janet and Buster Noah
27 Monica and David Muns
05 Holy Communion
12 Second Sunday Lunch, Noon
14 Valentine’s Day
22 Ash Wednesday, Beginning of Lent Season
25 Family Fellowship Night, 6:00 pm Fun, Games, and Food.
Remember – On the 2nd Sunday of the month, We Get Together To Share Lunch. Bring your favorite homemade dish or something store bought to add to our table. After the Worship service, join us for a buffet style meal and great fellowship.
And on the 4th Saturday of the month- 6:00 pm, Game Night at Blue Mound.
Enjoy a time of Fun, Food and Fellowship. Bring a dish for our table and a friend.
Groundhog’s Day – Serves as a convenient and whimsical milestone to mark the end of the darkest three months of the year (November, December, and January in the Northern Hemisphere) Are we in for six more weeks of Winter? Legend tells us: Only a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil knows for sure. If Phil sees his shadow on February 2, the winter chill will continue. Oddly, if the weather is cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, we can expect warmer temperatures and early spring.
Valentine’s Day – Is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, it has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
President’s Day – February 20, 2023- Also known as Washington’s Birthday, is a federal holiday in the United States. The day not only honors George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln whose birthdays are both in February, but honors all the presidents who have served in the United States.
BLUE MOUND UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
8421 N. Interstate 35, Denton, TX 76207-1537 (940) 382-0825
Midway between Denton and Sanger at Exit 473
Sunday School: 9:30 am, Sunday Worship: 10:45 am
Linda Boyer, Newsletter Editor
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