Monday, November 28, 2022

Second Sunday of Lent: Pastor recalls worshipping with Christians in Ukraine

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For centuries, Christians have observed the season of Lent to honor and remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is traditionally done through a reflection on Christ’s life, prayer, abstinence from worldly pleasures and the repentance of sin.

“While views on Lent vary from denomination to denomination, nearly all believers agree that setting aside a period of time to honor and remember the sacrifice of our savior is indispensable to the Christian life,” Pastor Lucas Miles, a faculty member at Summit Ministries and the pastor of Nfluence Church in Granger, Indiana, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

As the war in Ukraine rages on, the pastor noted that in 2018, he was part of a special religious delegation that traveled to Ukraine to celebrate the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

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“I remember being amazed at the massive reception we received of nearly 200,000 Christians gathering to celebrate their freedom in Christ,” Miles said. 

This year, he said, as believers worldwide celebrate Lent, we should “especially remember our brothers and sisters in Christ affected by the crisis in Ukraine.”

This map shows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as of Friday, March 11, 2022. The areas in red indicate the parts of the country that Russian forces have secured.
(Fox News)

Miles said that Lent is a good time to meditate on God’s promises. At the heart of Lent is the idea of covenant, or promise from God to man, he noted. 

Looking at Old Testament tradition and scripture, Miles pointed to Genesis 15:6, in which God establishes a covenant with Abram: “Abram believed the Lord, and he [God] credited it to him as righteousness.” 

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Over 2,000 years before Christ’s birth, Miles said, the scriptures foreshadow the gift of righteousness available through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Miles explained the Old Testament history of covenant, noting that in those times, “a blood covenant was a binding agreement between two parties. Together, they would dig a shallow trench into the earth and line it with the carcasses of slain sacrificial animals.”

A man is shown deep in prayer in this image. During Lent, Christians all over the world reflect on the life of Jesus and all that he gave us through his sacrifice on the cross. 

A man is shown deep in prayer in this image. During Lent, Christians all over the world reflect on the life of Jesus and all that he gave us through his sacrifice on the cross. 

Miles continued, “As the blood from the carcasses dripped into the trench, the two parties joined hands and walked between the pieces, signifying that failure to keep the covenant would grant the other permission to do unto the other what had been done to the animals.” 

This is the type of covenant that God made with Abram — known as the “Abramic Covenant,” explained Miles. 

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“In the account of Abram’s covenant with God, what is unique is that although God made this covenant with Abram, Abram himself never walked through the trench,” he said.

Ash Wednesday, on March 2, 2022, marked the beginning of the season of Lent this year. During this time of war in Ukraine, Christians all over the world are keeping the Ukrainians and all others affected by violence and conflict on their minds and in their prayers.

Ash Wednesday, on March 2, 2022, marked the beginning of the season of Lent this year. During this time of war in Ukraine, Christians all over the world are keeping the Ukrainians and all others affected by violence and conflict on their minds and in their prayers.
(Getty Images)

“Instead, the Bible tells us that Abram ‘fell into a deep sleep’ and had a vision of ‘a smoking firepot and a blazing torch’ passing between the pieces.” 

Miles said Christians believe that this points to the idea that the covenant was made “spiritually” between the “Father and the God-man Jesus Christ — rather than Abram himself,” although Abram benefited from it.

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This is further exhibited in the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament, said Miles, through the account Jesus’ transfiguration. Here, he reveals his divine nature to disciples Peter, James and John — as well as his future sacrifice on the cross. 

During this season of Lent, so many people are praying for the people of Ukraine. Shown here, a couple talks after people rushed to board a Lviv-bound train in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, on Feb. 28, 2022. 

During this season of Lent, so many people are praying for the people of Ukraine. Shown here, a couple talks after people rushed to board a Lviv-bound train in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, on Feb. 28, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Luke 9:29-30 reads, “As he [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.” 

Pastor Miles further explained, “If our righteousness depends upon our ability to maintain a covenant with God, none of us would have any hope of salvation. 

For Christians, however, this isn’t the case. With Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he faithfully fulfilled man’s end of the agreement with God.”

Saying that when Jesus “accepted a punishment that we justly deserved, we were saved by grace,” Miles noted that Christ became both “the sacrificial lamb as well as the man accepting a binding agreement with the Father.”

To ratify the covenant with God in the Old Testament, Abram had to be asleep, noted Miles. 

But Luke’s chapter 9 tells us that Peter, James and John “became fully awake” to see the glory of Jesus Christ before them. “In this glory of the person of Christ is our hope of redemption,” said Miles.

Pastor Lucas Miles of Indiana talked to Fox News Digital this week about the season of Lent. Sunday, March 13, marks the second Sunday of Lent this year. "As believers," said the pastor, "we join with Ukraine, praying for God's protection over their lives."

Pastor Lucas Miles of Indiana talked to Fox News Digital this week about the season of Lent. Sunday, March 13, marks the second Sunday of Lent this year. “As believers,” said the pastor, “we join with Ukraine, praying for God’s protection over their lives.”
(Krissy Miles)

“During this Lenten season, as the world rages mad all around us, may each of us become fully awake to behold the glory and goodness of our Lord, who gave his life as a sacrificial lamb so that we could enjoy eternal security and life in his name.”

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His spoke again of the war in Ukraine within the context of Lent. “As believers, we join with Ukraine, praying for God’s protection over their lives,” he said.



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