The Method of this Lenten Series
The Lenten series we have provided follows the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B. It is meant to be a reflective guide for you in your preaching preparation for Lent. The series provides you with the collection of lectionary texts for each Sunday of Lent, and highlights a central text for preaching. We provide a set of lenses for looking at each highlighted text that focuses on the AIM of the text. AIM stands for Ancient context, the text through the lens of Jesus (Ἰησοῦς), and our Modern application.
We think that understanding the Ancient or original context of the passage is necessary to inform and guide our interpretation of its theme. We also believe along with the Reformers that the interpretation of the Ancient context of the Hebrew scripture for the church necessarily flows through its Lord, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we affirm that the role of the preacher’s AIM is to bring the congregation from the Ancient through Christ and to the Modern context, making the message real in our hearts and lives. In addition, we will resource you with themes and ideas for preaching for each highlighted text, including referenced illustrations, and quotes from The Pastor’s Workshop library.
Introduction to the Seven Perspectives
The story of Lent is one of a pauper and a prince. You and I are the paupers, born into sinful misery and destined to die. Christ is the prince, elevated and eternal, whose embodied peace descends from on high into the poverty of mind, body, and soul in which we wallow.
Our stories are interwoven. The prince is found in the pig sty with the lost and broken. His human appearance and experience are indistinguishable from ours. He hungers and thirsts, he smarts and stings, he weeps and mourns, he suffers and dies.
Historically, Lent has been a time of austerity and self-deprivation, moral and mortal reflection, and repentance and renewal. The church has called its faithful to deny themselves during this time and pick up their cross and follow Christ. Ironically, it is more the case that Christ carries us, we who fumble to bear the weight of our own burden. As Jesus himself beckons, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29 NRSV).
While Lent reminds us of our moral failings and the mortal demise that they inevitably reap, it further challenges us to question our cultural comfortability and to live differently as Christ himself.
Our culture elevates image, self-promotion, and keeping up appearances. So we exchange our real and authentic selves for a hyped-up, glamorized, and airbrushed caricature. Our culture celebrates pleasure. So we avoid pain at all cost, stuff it down, numb it, hide it, and ignore it, believing that it has nothing to teach us. Our culture celebrates perfection. So, we strive to make the grade, the bank, and a name.
Jesus comes and overturns the cultural tables, stiff-arming image, pleasure, and the standards of religious and social perfection for a greater goal–wholeness of life with God and with humanity, the glorious end of the Hebrew word “shalom”.
This Lenten series follows seven “instructive” perspectives on Christ’s life interwoven with ours via meditation on Lenten lectionary texts from Ash Wednesday through the Liturgy of the Psalms on Palm Sunday.
It is our prayer that this Lent be one of renewed perspective for each of you as pastors and preachers. May your own life be a Christ-shaped difference to your culture and your people. Please know that the TPW Team is with you on this journey.
- Exegesis of Text Through AIM Methodology
- Key Quote
- Key Illustration (and comment)
- More Illustration and Quote Themes
- Liturgical Elements
Live Differently: 7 PERSPECTIVES ON LENT
Reflections on Christ’s Counter-Cultural Calling
We have labeled the 7 Perspectives after 7 “P” words which encompass the theme of the week’s given text.
In the introductory outline of the texts below you will find: 1) The date and text; 2) Perspective “P” Word; 3) A preview of the text’s content in parenthesis; 4) A sentence summation of the passage; and 5) A statement and question for reflection.
March 2, Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21)
Perspective 1: Pretense (Alms & Prayer, Given in Secret)
“Christ challenges us to live from a place of authentic worship in secrecy rather than the hypocritical pretense of outward religion meant to impress and deceive.”
Lent is a time to take off our masks and come as we are.
Q. What masks do we need to remove?
March 6, First Sunday of Lent, (Luke 4:1-13)
Perspective 2: Probation (Wilderness, Fasting, & Testing)
“Christ’s time of probation in the wilderness forged the mettle of his resolve as both human and divine, a testing that we experience and know in the frailty of our humanity but fail to overcome.”
Lent is a time to test our resolve to trust in that which matters most.
Q. What tests our trust?
March 13, Second Sunday of Lent (Luke 13:31-35)
Perspective 3: Persecution (Herod & Jerusalem Pursue the Prophet)
“Christ takes ridicule and threats for what they are, subordinate and in service to the purposes of God. Persecution should shape resolve rather than shun it.”
Lent is a time to let go of our fear of the people and things that plague us.
Q. What makes us flee from living out God’s purpose for us?
March 20, Third Sunday of Lent (Luke 13:1-9)
Perspective 4: Penitence (The Pursuit of Repentance: Pilate, Pillars & Figs)
“Christ offers a life of flourishing and fruitfulness, an honest life, a truth-telling life and not of lies, an open-book life for him to read, to edit, and to re-write. He calls us to a place of penitence.”
Lent is a time to open our closets and let God clean them out.
Q. In what way do we need to open the closets of our souls and the covers of our lives to God?
Perspective 5: Prodigious (Welcome & Dine with Sinners)
“Christ loves younger brothers and sisters, wayward souls, people who mess up regularly and royally. He pleads with the older siblings among us to welcome them too as he welcomes us. His love is prodigious and thus also should be ours”
Lent is a time to unashamedly love the wrecked and broken.
Q. How can we love the wrecked and broken if we think that does not apply to us?
April 3, Fifth Sunday of Lent (John 12:1-8)
Perspective 6: Perfume (Mary’s Costly Perfume)
“Christ praises the costly gift of a follower who lavishly pours out the best she has for the One who has everything. It is not the gift that is remembered, but the one who gives it with such gratitude that is the fragrant perfume to God.”
Lent is a time to recklessly give all we have to God.
Q. What might we lavishly give to God; what might it cost us.
Perspective 7: Procession (Blessed Entry & The Open Gates of Righteousness)
“Christ’s life moves forward with purpose even if that procession leads from triumph to tragedy. It is through the tragedy in the end, that true triumph emerges.”
Lent is a time to evaluate the purpose of our lives.
Q. What might it look like for us to proceed with righteous intent?