Happy Lent! sermon
Psalm 32 The Joy of Forgiveness
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up[a] as by the heat of summer.Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.Selah
6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress,[b] the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart. Chapter 15
Luke 15 - Context: Parable of the Lost Sheep/ Parable of the Lost Coin
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my sheep/lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels in heaven when even one sinner repents.”
Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” ’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began!
“Happy Lent!” Sermon for 03-01-20 at Harbor Church
We wish one another Happy birthday, and happy anniversary. And Merry Christmas… well how about “Happy Lent?!” How can Lent be a season of gladness /what do you mean by that?
Psalms for the season Songs for Lent. 4 psalms of Reflection and Celebration. (to borrow from Stevie Wonder)- “Songs in the Key of Life” –
Evern heard a Song in a minor key with uplifting lyrics? Sure you have!’’
African American Spirituals- are songs of sorrow and lament mingled with hope and joy. So we sing. So we live (in the words of our opening meditation“…with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.”
“Happy are those ...” What does this mean?. What if the meaning really is “happy”? What if the psalmist was trying to give us insight into what really makes for happiness? That’s our goal isn’t it? Being happy? We say that about our children; we say that we don’t care what they do as long as they are happy. We say that about our nation – that we believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. back to Psalm 32. “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven . . . Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity.” Happiness, argues our psalm, is found in reconciliation with God and in living with a clear conscience .-
A right relationship. Happiness can be the outworking of healthy relationships with God, with others. “Happiness isn’t a goal; it’s a by-product of right living.” The psalmist is living in the new reality, the redeemed reality and witnessing to us about the joy that comes from that place.
Psalm 32 is telling us, the amazing news that a new start is available to us, to all, to any. Yet, like all the spirituals, this isn’t an easy fix. It is a long journey. That’s why this psalm is at the beginning of our Lenten pilgrimage. We need to start with hope, to start with the possibility of reaching the destination. Because it isn’t an easy walk in the park. That’s why we need to begin not with condemnation, but with encouragement. We begin with a psalm of hope, so that we can be reminded that we’re not alone as we journey.
Happiness can be uncovered in every aspect of Lent:
Happy in Remembering. We’ve already spoken about the gladness and joy of this season can come through self-examination and repentance. Last week, I spoke about the joy of forgetting. Today, Happiness is found in reflecting and Remembering. We consider God’s goodness, lessons learned, a fresh start, a clean slate. A new beginning. The Prodigal Son story…. Let’s have a party!
Happy in prayer. Psalms are songs, but also prayers. Communion/fellowship with God is sweet- illustration: Women’s History Month : Movie “Harriet” Harriet Tubman: “Twasn’t me, ’twas the Lord. I always told him, “I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,” and he always did.” God’s leading and guidance.
Happy in reading and meditating on God's Holy Word. As we read, we ponder anew the happiness that can be ours as we explore the depths of God’s grace and goodness found in the narratives, stories, poems, wisdom. Jeremiah “I found your words and I ate them up!… and they filled my heart with joy and happines! And.. Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey! What is your favorite candy or desert? Twizzlers! I enjoy chewing on them so much I don’t want to swallow. Imagine eating alphabet soup , swirling in your mouth to form words and sentences and ideas. Gobble it up! Chew it over. Open the Bible this season and spend time thoroughly digesting the ideas you find there. Its not only food for the soul; it can be a palate of tasty treats; thoughts that sweeten your day!
Even Fasting can bring gladness.. We don’t think of hunger as making us happy, do we? But We can rejoice in sensation of weakness of hunger produces, because it leads us to a deeper reliance upon God for everything, especially our physical needs.
Gladness and joy can be discovered in every aspect of life. It’s a matter of perspective.
Like the great African-American Spiritual, the crucible of adversity can forge and refine it until it becomes hope for the future. A song in a minor key can uplift the heart and make the soul glad.
So let us sing songs, and hymns and spiritual songs that proclaim the goodness of God in all of life. Let us declare the greatness of God in all things, and in all circumstances. May joy and gladness fill our hearts during this season of the year-