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Synopsis for Sermons and Meditations During the Lenten Period
By Very Rev Fr. Thomas Mundukuzhy CorEpiscopa

[Editor's Note: For Christians, the Great Lent begins on March 3, 2003. It will end with Easter on April 20, 2003. Lent is a great opportunity to examine within ourselves, and get rid of the toxic feelings, cleanse our heart with repentance and forgiveness, and spend time in meditation. This process has great therapeutic benefit. All the great religions go through this step. Muslims have finished the Ramadan, the season of fasting and lent that finished with a pilgrimage to Mecca. So, irrespective of which religion you belong to this self-examination and purification can be of great benefit. So, we are providing some guidelines for meditation during the Great Lent. You can reflect on the teachings in Bible as an aid to do so.]

The Eastern Orthodox Churches, prepare the members spiritually and mentally to enter the Lenten Period centering themes dealing the necessity of repentance for four previous Sundays.

  • A. Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14): the proud man and the humble man who sought forgiveness.

  • B. The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-323): The repented son returned and the loving father embraced him wholeheartedly.

  • C. The judgment (Matthew 25:31-46): The need to show concern for all in need of help.

  • D. Forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-21): If we fail to practice forgiveness, God will not forgive us.

The oriental Orthodox Churches, begin the GREAT LENT with a special Penitential Service on the first Monday of the Lent.

Roman Catholics and some other Protestant Churches like the Episcopalians begin the Lent with a special service on the first Wednesday of the Lent (Ash Wednesday).

Here are synopsis for sermons and meditations during the lenten period.

FAST stands for: 

  • F: FAITH: 

  • A: APOLOGIZE

  • S: SUBMIT 

  • T: TEARS

These FOUR factors are to be considered very highly during the FAST and emphasis must be given to these requirements during the Penitential Service.

MATTHEW 18:12-35

1. God cares to get back the lost: Luke 15

2. We have to seek reconciliation: 15-17. God ratifies the reconciliation and absolution as well as the disciplinary actions.

3. Confession and absolution.

4. If we gather together in His name, He will be in our midst (v.20). When ever His people pray together according to His will (1 John 5:14), the Father answers. Unlike Jewish regulations where at least 10 males are required to establish a synagogue, two or three believers establish the Christian fellowship because Christ is there "to quicken their prayers, guide their counsels and to answer their petitions."

5. We have to forgive several times (v.22). Those who are forgiven shall forgive others: 6:14-15. According to Jewish tradition, one should forgive a repentant offender four times. Peter, as generous, increased the number to seven setting a limit. Jesus tells us to forgive no matter the attitude of the offender without limit: Romans 13:8.

6. God forgives freely: Psalm 145:8. God's kingdom is like the king who freely forgive the helpless debtor, but required his people to forgive others. The servant did not forgive his fellow servant who owes him just 100 denari (the master forgave ten thousand talents) and put him in prison till he paid the debt.

7. He violated God's commandments (19:19) - not loved his neighbor; so he is wicked. Therefore he was delivered to the tortures.

8. God demands wholehearted forgiveness without reservation.

9. LOVE:

 

  • 1 John 4:7-11;1:10; 2:15; 3:14, 16-18; 4:12, 17-20; 5:23;

  • John 3:16; 13:34-35; 14:15, 21;

  • Matthew 5:43-44; 22:37; Acts 7:6; 1

  • Corinthians 13:1ff.

A. God is love: 1 John 4:8, 10, 16, 19, 3:16

B. Love like Jesus: John 15:12; 1 John 3;14-18

C. Love one another: 1 John 4:11. God is revealed through our love through one another.

D. perfect love brings assurance: 1 John 4:11-21

E. Practice love: 1 Corinthians 13:1ff

F. Love must not be a mere sentiment. Give ourselves for the good of others as God gives: Matthew 18:33

G. Holy Spirit impresses upon us an inward awareness: John 14:20

H. Love remains throughout eternity: 1 Corinthians 13:4-10

I. Love God: "Do you love me more than these?": John 21:15. We have to love God: Deuteronomy 30:20.

Relationship between man and woman : Genesis 2:24.

Our love for God shall be greater than for anybody else: Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26. 

Love God with all heart, soul and mind: Matthew 22:37.

Love is rooted in good deeds and words. It is a sincere concern and action to produce the lasting welfare of others. Love should be in deeds, not just in words: 1 John 3:18. 

Jesus showed His love in action (John 15:13). 

God created man like Himself (Genesis 1:26) with the capacity to love. We have to obey God's commandments as well as love each other. Rejoice in the triumph of others. Help others according to their needs. Forgive their mistakes, respect them, and be ready to sacrifice life for them. Agape. There is no quality like this. Selfishness is the enemy. Should have hunger for love and pray for it. Do all in love: 1 Corinthians 16:14. Holy Spirit strengthens us. Love negates jealousy... a s light removes darkness. 

When love fades, dark enters like dark comes in where there is no love. 

He who loves God loves others: 1 John 4:20.

Concern for others: John 15:12. Love each other ... children, men, women... 

"Honk, if you love Jesus" .. Are you a honky Christian?

1. We can measure love by thoughts: God expressed His love toward Israel: Jeremiah 31:20. We think about those we love. We have to think about God all the time: Psalms 139:17-18.

2. We can also measure love by time spent: Psalms 84:1: day and night: Psalm 1:2.

3. How much we seek to please; David (Psalms 19:4); Paul (2 Corinthians 5:9); 

In every way (Colossians 2:10); 

we have to keep His commandments (John 14:15);

At Simon's place, the women showed love (Luke 7:38, 47). 

God demonstrated love (Romans 5:8). 

We have to love Him (Matthew 22:37-38).

Love in bitter context

Jesus prayed for the tormenters (Luke 23:34); 

Stephen prayed for those who stoned him (Acts 7:60).

1. Love forgives (1 Corinthians 13:4). 

Forgiveness leads to love: Christian mentality to forgive... not seven, but seven seventy times. 

Lord's forgiveness on the cross.

2. Love forgets: Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Peter 4:8; Matthew 18:15.

3. Love never fails: 1 Corinthians 13:8

4.Service: Helping hand without distinction of creed or color: Micha 6:8; John 15:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
Good Samaritan is a good example. .. for other people's goodness. . even ready to die for others like Jesus Christ: John 10:11.

5. By spreading the goodness of the Gospel, we can show our love.

6. Respect: Love produces love: Galatians 5:22; 1 Peter 3:13. Love transforms others. Spirit of Christ is spirit of love./ Holy Spirit.

Good for evil: If your enemy is hungry, feed him: Romans 12:2. 

David did not kill Saul: 1 Samuel 26:12.

So also Joseph: Genesis 45:4-8; 50:15-21.

"Love is the most important way of eradicating the enemy" (Abraham Lincoln)

"Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand" (Mother Teresa)

"Forgiveness is the final form of love" (Reinold Niebuhr)

"The only genuine love worthy of the name is unconditional" (John Powell)

:"Where there is great love, there is always miracles" (Willa Cather)

"Love is letting go of fear"

"To Give is to Receive is the Law of Love"

"Love is the way I walk in gratitude"

"Teach only Love for that is what you are" (Gerald G. Jampolsky

Self-fulness vs. selfishness

Love-hate relationships

Love Finder or Fault Finder

Love Giver or Love Seeker

We need the power of the Holy Spirit, fellowship of the Son, and the grace of God to love each other.

10. PATIENCE:

Bear fruit with patience: Luke 8:15

Faith produces patience: James 1:3

Labor of love and patience: 1 Thessalonians 1:3

We have to wait for patience: Romans 8:25

We have to run the race with patience: Hebrews 12:1

We need patience to keep from falling away from the faith: 2 Peter 1:5-10

To reconcile with God: Matthew 5:23-24; 18:18-35.

Patient people act with wisdom and direction

(Some one cut into our lane and we missed our turn. We are in a hurry for an appointment. This situation makes us to go to another exit. We get angry...we loose our patience?)

Saul did not wait with patience and he was rejected: 1 Samuel 13:7-14.

Abraham waited quarter of a century and got his promised son: Hebrews 6:15.

Job set a tremendous example of patience James 5:11.

David had great patience and got blessed: Psalms 40:1; 130:5.

Paul had to go through so much hardships, but endured patiently: 2 Corinthians 11:23f; Romans 5:3-5.

Jesus Christ is our model: Hebrews 12:3.

HOW TO DEVELOP PATIENCE?

1. Keep our eyes on the overall goal: James 5:7-8; Hebrews 2:3

2. Think before we act: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread" (Alexander Pope). Don't jump into conclusions.

3. Concentrate on giving to others: Selfishness is the root of impatience: 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Overlook other's short-comings: Ecclesiastes: 7:8.

4. Talk out our tensions: If we are annoyed with someone's actions, tell it frankly and sincerely.

5. Rely on God for strength: We have a God of patience, we could get a mind like his: Romans 15:5. Follow David's exhortations: Psalm 27:14. We need patience to receive the promise: Hebrews 10:36.

11. FAITH:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1): 

Centurion's faith - never seen such faith (Matthew 8:10); 

The woman's faith made her well (Matthew 9:22); 

Because of the faith of the Canaanite woman, her daughter was cured (Matthew 15:28); 

The wind ceased, but Jesus pointed out not having faith (Mark 4:40).

Faith has dependence with love. 

It is not just belief of Jesus Christ (the demons have it: James 2:19);

Not just belief in miracles (Matthew 7:22): Judas had it; 

Not just believing the story of Jesus: even immorals believe that;

Acknowledging baptism and spiritual matters are not enough; 

Comparing religions and recognizing the importance of Christianity is not enough; 

Not just charity or calling my God and Lord not enough. 

Have faith as a mustard seed (Luke 17:6); 

Have the kind of faith Shandrach, Meshack and AbedNego (Daniel 3:16-17) had that God will deliver them. 

Faith is the eye by which we look Jesus. It is the hand with which we lay hold of Jesus. Faith is the tongue by which we taste how good the Lord is. Faith is the foot by which we go to Jesus. It is the trust and confidence in God's reliability. 

We have to believe that Jesus is the son of God and He is our Savior (John 1:14; Acts 4:12). Also we have to believe in His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14). 

He will not forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will complete the work (Philippians 1:6). 

St. Paul worked to remain faithful by discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27). He pressed toward the goal (2 Timothy 4:6-7). 

Faith in what is least (Luke 16:10).. Needs effort with faith and trembling (Philippines 2:12). It is a difficult path (Matthew 7:14). Don't get weary (Galatians 6:9). 

How we can be like the heroes of faith? (Hebrews 12:1-3). 

Christ's faith in us (Galatians 2:20). 

Gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8). 

Peter's formula: (2 Peter 1:5-8, 10). Diligence, growth, grace, knowledge (2 peter 3:18). 

Have faith in few things and we will be blessed with abundance: (Matthew 25:21). 

Renewal of commitment is the key.

11. FORGIVENESS:

1. Lent commemorates the 40 days fast of our Lord. It is a reason of renewal. Through the various experiences of the GREAT LENT, one is supposed to be refreshed by humility, purified by abstinence, and strengthened by prayer. Lent should bring religion into daily life like a blood stream in the body of daily behavior.

2. Everyone needs forgiveness, a lot of it. We are all imperfect. Only God is perfect: Matthew 5:48. Our guilt and shame can be dealt with only by forgiveness.. forging each other.

3. We are used with blaming others. We find remote reasons for this: Hon Kong flu, German measles, Japanese fly, Irish fever, etc. Adam blamed God for his sin. We have to learn to forgive rather than blame.

4. Difficult to forgive. We are forgiven people. So we must be forgiving people. Forgive again and again. Peter asked this to our Lord. Not seven times, but seventy times seven (490 times) was the answer. That means unlimited times.

5. "Forgive our debts as we we forgive our debtors" (Lord's prayer). We have to forgive the mistakes of others, we to be forgiven: Matthew 5:23-25. Reconcile with them before we offer our gifts. If we forgive, God also forgives us: Mark 11:25. Forgive from the heart: Matthew 18:35. Even if it is the other person's fault, we have to try for forgiveness: Matthew 18:13. Don't wait: Ephesians 4:26. Love one another: Romans 13:8.

6. "Forgiveness is the key to happiness." 

"Forgiveness is letting go of the past." 

"Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss" (Dr. Gerald Jampolsky). 

Isolate the facts, cancel the punishment and assume the responsibility.

Forgiveness is a command: Mark 11:25. 

Extend forgiveness to others to obtain it from God: Matthew 6:12. 

If not forgive, it hurts us like cancer. If not forgive, it hurts others also: Hebrews 12: 14-15. 

Unforgiveness is equal to revenge which is not right: Romans 12:19.

 Jesus taught us to forgive, even on the cross and encouraged to love each other. Forgiveness is divine.

WHY WE CANNOT FORGIVE?

1. One sided: When we see only one side, get angry: we don't listen to their sides. David realized his mistakes: 2 Samuel 12:1-6. Joseph misunderstood Mary: Matthew 1:18-19.

2. Unforgiveness is foolishness: Makes irritation and worry to both parties. Love can win hatred: Romans 12:21. Need patience.

3. Where hatred, etc., think carefully and wait to cool down. Pray: James 1:19.

4. God forgives us: 

Matthew 18:23-25. God forgives all our sins: Colossians 3:13.

5. See God in others: 

If we forgive others, that is to God: Matthew 25:40, 45; Ephesians 4:32. Forgiving is not a sign of weakness. It is a growth in the spiritual life. Hurt leads to hate. Then comes the healing process and finally coming together. Forgiving is forgetting and healing the hurt.

6. God forgives: 

Unlike his father Hezekiah, Manasseh (2 Kings 21) worshipped the hosts of heaven and outraged God. The end result was of his capture by the Assyrians and putting him in prison. There he repented and prayed for forgiveness. "A broken and contrite heart, He will not despise." (Psalm 51: ).Manasah's sins were forgiven; his heart was renewed' his honor was restored, his whole life was changed. He repaired the altar of God's house and encouraged the people to turn back to God again. God forgives. So He sent His only begotten Son to save us from sin.

7. TEAR OF REPENTANCE LEADS TO FORGIVE-NESS: 

God punished an angel for wrongdoing by sending him to earth asking him to bring back the most precious thing he could find. The angel returned with a DROP OF BLOOD from a soldier dying for his country. Though precious, it was not the most precious. 

Then the angel brought back the LAST BREATH of a heroic woman who sacrificed her life for others. Though more precious, it was not the most precious. 

Saw a criminal at the last moment feeling sorry for his victim and not hurting him and after blinking his eyes ROLLING A TEAR down his cheek. The angel brought that tear. The angel was forgiven and accepted back in heaven, for the tear of repentance was the most precious and important thing on earth

We have a "sinful nature" (Romans 7:18). 

All have sinned (Romans 3:23). 

Sin alienates us from God. Adam and Eve hid. 

We can be forgiven and be cleansed. 

Jesus forgives: Mark 2:10. Peter was sinful but forgot all and followed Him: Luke 5:11 

We are sinners (1 John 8:9), but forgiven. Mary Magdaline was forgiven (Luke 7:36-50). 

God is interested in repentance, not retaliation. 

God is merciful and kind to forgive, if we repent. We have to have faith. ..complete submission .. yield ourselves.

8. REPENT:

Sin is the transgression of God's law: 1 John 3:4. 

All have sinned: Romans 3:23. The wages of sin is death. The sinner has to be reconciled with God. 

Repentance makes reconciliation. 

The three motives to change behavior: 

(1) Fear of punishment 

(2) Desire for reward 

(3) Love. 

God demonstrates His love toward us : Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). 

God loved us first: 1 John 4:19. 

The goodness of God leads us to repentance: Romans 2:4. 

Repentance shall be sin-cere=without wax (clay pot): unblemished truth. Hot water melts the wax and the hole will show show thus becomes useless. Holy spirit melts the waxes in us. We have to repair the cracks. 

God hates sin, loves the sinners. Jesus mingled with them: Luke 7:34; Matthew 9:11.

Jesus came to call sinners: Luke 5:32. Jesus "is holy, undefiled, separate from sinners: Hebrews 7:26. 

Jesus loves "righteousness and hates wickedness": Hebrews 1:9. 

We have to work with sinners; we are in this sinful world, but we are not "of the world": John 17:14-16. 

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector: Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee did not recognize his own sinfulness (ver. 10-11). Tax collectors are publicans who are abhorred by the Jewish community as apostates, traitors, and unclean because of their contact with all kinds of people during tax collections. But this one repented: 18:13. 

God listens to repented sinners. Jesus stayed with Zaacheus, the chief publican: Luke 19:1ff.

"Without holiness, no one will see God" (Hebrews 12:14). Holy Mysteries are given only to the pure and the holy.

9. WHEN DRIFTING FROM GOD:

David committed a very serious sin: 2 Samuel 11:1ff. Amman, capital city of Jordan, is known in the Bible as Rabbah, the capital city of Ammorites when king David of Israel sent Uriah, one of his trusted generals to certain death. David committed adultery with Bersheba, Uriah's wife. Cover up did not work. So killed Uriah and committed two errors. David was a courageous (killed Goliath), loyal (risked life to save his sheep from a lion), God-feared man who drifted from God. God went after him through Nathan, the prophet and David repented. God looks for the one lost sheep: Matthew 18:10-14. WE have to admit our sins, pray, fast - get help from a servant of the Lord. A friendly shepherd: Luke 15:5, will help us. After repentance, David wrote Psalm 51. Spit out the sins and swallow the pride and do useful service to God.

10. HOW TO FLEE FROM SIN?

1. Avoid wrong environment. Israel did not do that: Deuteronomy 20:16-17; Judges 1:28-33; 2:11-2.

2. Avoid the appearance of evil: Luke 10:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:22 vs. 5:14-16.

3. Avoid certain people: Romans 16:17-18; 14:1; 1 Corinthians 5:11, 13 vs. right people: Malachi 3:16; Proverbs 27:17.

4. Avoid godless talk: Luke 6:45; Ephesians 5:3-4,12 vs. Proverbs 25:11.

11. FEEL THE PRESENCE OF GOD:

Genesis 1: 1-112

1. In the beginning God: The word "God" is used 32 times in this chapter, in almost all of the verses

2. Created from nothing: Hebrews 11:3

3. Created the whole universe: New heavens and new earth in the new creation: Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Revelation 21:1

4. Darkness because of the absence of light

5.God created everything.

WISDOM

1 Kings 3: 5-28

1. Solomon prayed and wisdom and riches came to him

2. Solomon prays for help to speak of wisdom

3. Nature and incomparable dignity of wisdom.

ISAIAH 29: 15-24

1. God knows the thoughts of false counselors

2. The Messiah comes to redeem

3. The powerless: the deaf, blind, humble, poor - will have their day

4. God is love: We have to recognize that He alone is the Holy One who blesses us.

JAMES 1: 2-12

1. "Brethren": 16 times to show the close relationship James has in Christ with the believers.

2. When we face trials or discouraging circumstances, we should have joy.

3. God uses these troubles to make us stronger.

4. We develop patience to produce the perfect work of a fully developed Christian character.

5. We have to pray for spiritual insight.

6. If we do not trust God, we are unstable as a wave (Ephesians 4:14): double minded because then we trust God, but not completely.

7. Earthly wealth is temporary. In Christ we have true riches that will not pass away.

8. Wealth does not bring lasting satisfaction: Matthew 6:19-21

9. The faithful Christian receives the crown of life: eternal life: Revelation 2:10.

ROMANS 1:18-25

1. The devil seeks to lead us astray.

2. God uses temptations and difficulties to test and to strengthen us.

3. For the first test, turning stones into bread, Jesus answered by quoting Moses: Deuteronomy: 8:3.

4. In the second test: "throw yourself down", Satan quoted Psalms 91: 11-12, and Jesus answered by quoting Exodus 17:17: Do not put God to test.

5. Again Satan caused Jesus to see all the kingdoms of the world, but Jesus answered quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, 16, pointing against falling into idolatry.

6. The Satan left and Jesus was ministered by the angels. God takes care of His obedient Son.

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