In the Book of Joel, the prophet paints a vivid picture of the coming judgment of God, the Day of the Lord. The imagery is bold and terrifying: hordes of locusts swarming over the land and decimating everything. Joel’s prophecy has teeth even today as wars rage, natural disasters threaten and destroy, and our culture seems to be unraveling. But right in the middle of this frightening portent, we find a tender invitation from the Lord: Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster (Joel 2:13).
God’s invitation and promise finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, who personifies and accomplishes all that God declares. During this season of Lent, we will consider the theme “Return to the Lord” and examine how the call to return played out in practical ways for the people who walked alongside Christ as He demonstrated and carried out God’s grace and mercy on our behalf, taking God’s wrath upon Himself, setting the stage for God to turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him (Joel 2:14).
Below is the Midweek Sermon Series for Lent and the focus for each week. The recorded messages for each week will be added on this page. If you miss a week, please check here to listen.
Ash Wednesday - Wednesday February 17:
“A Call to Return”. Joel's prophecy is dark and terrifying, and the imagery is vivid. It sets the stage for God's invitation and promise: "You have turned away from me in your hearts and minds, and I have now shown you where that path will take you. But it is not too late. Turn back! Return to the Lord! I am gracious and merciful, and I will bless you." This sermon sets the stage for the Lenten path that we will follow together.
"Return to Prayer". This sermon focuses our attention on Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane, and explores the topic of prayer. Our prayer life ebbs and flows; we have seasons of abundant prayer and seasons of drought. Throughout all of it, though, Jesus prays consistently. Indeed, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). When God calls us to pray, He provides the means to do so and even fulfills what we ourselves are unable to do. So also Jesus takes our sins upon Himself and dies on the cross, satisfying the wrath of God and fulfilling what we ourselves are unable to do.
"Return from Betrayal". Judas appears in the in the Garden of Gethsemane and betrays Jesus into the "hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23). This sermon explores the theme of betrayal, specifically the ways that we betray one another and Jesus through our denials and rejection of the faith.
"Return from False Witness". Judas' betrayal brings Jesus before Caiphas and the Council. In this sermon we examine what God actually means in the Eighth Commandment when He said that you should "not bear false witness against your neighbor?" (Exodus 20:16) and what to do when our failure here leads us away from God. Thankfully, God calls us to turn from our sin, to look to Him, and to find our rest and identity in Him.
"Return from Denial". Peter stands in the courtyard, watching his Lord and master being wrongfully accused, having promised that he was ready to follow Jesus both to prison and to death. But when asked directly, Peter denies Jesus. But Jesus will have the last word. He calls us to return to Him . . . to return from denial.
"Return to the Kingdom of God". Pontius Pilate reigns at his Headquarters and is forced to wrestle with the question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), but the real question is “Who is truth?” In this sermon, a King calls us to return to His rule and reign so that He can pour out blessings on us.
"Return to the Table". Jesus’ invitation is such that He draws us into a place where we have fellowship with all believers. And yet, our fellowship is stained by sin. Our Lord’s invitation to return is accompanied by His promise to make all things new, when once again we will share the fruit of the vine with Christ Himself.
Return to Truth".In this sermon, we remember the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for each of us. Our focus is on the One who is the way, and the truth, and the light, even as He hangs on the cross, wracked with pain and writhing in agony.
"Return and See". Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! In this sermon we rejoice that our Lord’s call to return was issued so that we might have life in abundance through the one who lived, died, and rose again to secure our salvation.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us... Hebrews 12:1