In most of the churches I’ve served I’ve done “series preaching.” That term refers to a set of sermons dedicated to a particular theme. The idea is that such an approach gives a congregation more opportunity to delve into the theological relevance of a given topic than a single sermon can do. I haven’t done much “series preaching” at MBBC for various reasons, but there are certain seasons of the year that cry out for a more focused preaching schedule, and the Lenten season is one of them. In Lent, we embark on a forty-day journey of spiritual examination that is designed to help us prepare for the holiest week of the Christian year – that week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, which also of course encompasses Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Because the Lenten journey always has the cross in its sights, I’ve decided to title this next series, “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life.” Many of you will recognize that title as having been taken from an old hymn by the same name. That hymn, written by Frank North, a Methodist minister from the early part of the last century, details the many ways in which Jesus’ atoning sacrifice takes up so much of our anguish and our pain, and redeems it. The primary message is, “Though life can get complicated, the cross of Jesus intersects with every part of it, and lavishes divine grace upon it” (my interpretation). The hymn, by the way, is in our Celebrating Grace hymnal, so we’ll probably sing it at some point in our Lenten journey.
In the meantime, get ready for a spiritual roller coaster in this next series that will take us from the wilderness of Jesus’ temptation, through his encounters with human need, and up to the Place of the Skull where Jesus breathed his last. My prayer is that along the way you will recognize the many places where Jesus’ story connects with your own so that by the time Holy Week arrives, your hope will find fulfillment in a death and resurrection that you will see was meant not just for a cramped and crowded world, but also was meant for you.
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” (Jer. 6:16).