Today we are starting our new sermon series on The Best Sermon Ever Preached – the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew’s Gospel chapter 5-7), Jesus’ core teaching on how we are to live as his disciples, his followers, his apprentices, in our time, in our culture, in our community, in our world. I am really excited about how God is going to speak to us over the coming weeks!
We’re actually rewinding a little from Matthew 5 today, and starting in Matthew 4 which really ‘sets up’ the Sermon for us… so it’s a good place to start. As we start this new series, I encourage you, if you haven’t already–and even if you have–to read the sermon! Set aside time over the next week to read Matthew chapters 5 to 7, read it slowly, and let God speak to you through it.
This Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday (I hope you will join us at our pancake supper!) and this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which is the day in the Christian calendar which occurs 46 days before Easter marking the start of the season of Lent. The name ‘Ash Wednesday’ comes from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of those who gather at services as a sign of repentance to God. We know that Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, when he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday helps us, as followers of Jesus, to enter into this 40 day period ourselves as we prepare for Easter.
Lent is often a season when we “give something up” to create time and space to pray, repent (say sorry to God) and focus on Jesus. I invite you to consider what you might give up for Lent (Facebook, TV, games, coffee and chocolate are some common ones). Or maybe you’d like to “take up” something for Lent, like praying the Lord’s Prayer at a certain time in the day, praying for your neighbours or workmates, or reading Scripture at a mealtime.